Inspired by true events, Adopting Audrey (the first film from writer-director M Cahill since 2007’s King of California) sees Jena Malone star as Audrey. Despite losing her boyfriend, her job, and falling way behind with her rent, Audrey keeps a positive attitude and a playful smile. Just as her life starts to derail, she stumbles upon online videos for adult adoption while watching adorable animal clips. She decides to pursue the idea further, as if on a whim, and finds herself in the company of older couple Sonny (Emily Kuroda) and her uptight husband, Otto (Robert Hunger-Bühler). While first impressions don’t go well, Audrey and Otto gradually form a strong bond.
Malone is endlessly delightful in this role. She captivates audiences from the first frame with the carefree spirit she exudes onscreen matched only by the whimsical soundtrack; she only continues to charm as we gradually become more acquainted with her. Just as fantastic os Hunger-Bühler, whose singleminded stubbornness makes him the perfect comedic opposite to Malone’s chirpier outlook. The pair’s blossoming friendship is what makes this flick work. Underneath their verbal back-and-forth, the actors show a genuine tenderness towards one another, with Cahill likewise knowing how to get the most out of the quieter moments.
Outside of Malone and Hunger-Bühler’s stellar performances, though, this piece is disappointingly hollow in places. Compared to Otto and Audrey’s relationship, other aspects of the script feel underdeveloped. Not only is this issue noticeable through a handful of unresolved plot beats (especially one concerning Audrey’s interactions with Otto’s son, played by Will Rogers), but it’s more prevalent when it comes to exploring the protagonist’s own family life and her motivations for wanting to be adopted in the first place. Presenting this aspect more as a footnote than a core part of the character’s journey, the filmmaker doesn’t give audiences enough of a reason to become fully invested in her plight. In addition to making for an unsatisfying finale, this misstep likewise detracts from Audrey and Otto’s relationship.
Malone gives one of the best performances of her career to date in Adopting Audrey, with Hunger-Bühler shining alongside her. Unfortunately, the script isn’t up to the same high standard of excellence.
Adopting Audrey is released on demand on 13th March on 2023.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2023 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Adopting Audrey here: