Adrienne Beaufort & Dr. Bryce Latham In ‘The Clearing,’ Explained

Adrienne Beaufort, portrayed by Miranda Otto, is the main antagonist in the Australian thriller series The Clearing, which is a Hulu Original adaptation of J. P. Pomare’s renowned novel In The Clearing. The series draws inspiration from real-life cult leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne and her new age group known as “The Family.” In the show, Miranda Otto’s portrayal of Adrienne captures the essence of Hamilton-Byrne, depicting her as an incredibly heartless and cruel individual. Otto’s performance brings the character of Adrienne Beaufort to life, making her one of the most menacing villains in the history of cults.

Spoilers Ahead

How Did Ada Smith Turn Into An Enlightened Being Known As ‘Maitreya’?

Adrienne Beaufort, originally named Ada Smith and born in the 1920s, had a challenging upbringing. She was raised by her father after her mother’s struggle with mental health. Ada’s mother was eventually diagnosed with a severe mental illness and placed in a psychiatric facility. Ada, who later got married, constantly avoided getting pregnant by secretly using contraceptive pills, but her husband had always been a family-minded man who wanted to raise children and grow their family. However, when her husband discovered she was using contraceptive methods, he left her, only for him to tragically die in a car accident.

Ada, a cunning and ambitious woman, possessed a quite demeanor but a sharp mind. In the early 1970s, while working as a housekeeper at a local psychiatrist’s home, she impressed the doctor with her intuitive and manipulative actions, leaving him fascinated by her ability to read souls and enchanted by her beauty. Taking some money from the doctor, she embarked on a journey to India, where she learned yoga and Hindu mythology under Swami Muktananda.

Upon returning to America, Ada reinvented herself as Adrienne Beaufort. After opening her own yoga studio, she began manipulating young women into leaving their husbands and joining her. Adrienne possessed a unique power of intuition, which she strategically employed to gain the trust of various individuals, including Dr. Latham, a prominent physicist. During this time, Latham was up for a spiritual experience, which gave Adrienne a better opportunity to manipulate his mind. To earn Latham’s trust, she predicted that his wife would fall ill after traveling to India, and her prediction eventually came true. Blinded by trust, Latham and his wife unquestioningly believed in Adrienne, which became a powerful tool for her.

With Latham by her side, Adrienne amassed wealth, gained the trust of numerous influential people, and acquired her own house. Together, they formed a cult known as The Kindred, with Adrienne employing her powers of intuition to control and manipulate her followers, including a young woman named Hannah and her husband, Henrik. The cult thrived, propelled by Adrienne’s ability to win over the trust of those around her through her calculated actions.

Although Dr. Latham and other followers of the cult believed Adrienne to be the enlightened one, she was nothing more than a beautiful woman using her charm to manipulate men. Born in a time when independent thinking for women was seen as witchcraft, Ada witnessed the oppression of women and the societal expectation that they exist solely to bear children. Ada chose to defy these conventions and build her own empire, free from the shadow of men and the burden of motherhood. However, instead of using her powers for good, Adrienne chose the path of evil.

Rather than using her intuition and soul-reading abilities to benefit others, she exploited her followers by stealing their children. This twisted desire likely stemmed from her own inability to bear children, which made her resentful of others’ happiness and contentment with their families. Through illegal adoption and other methods, she expanded her cult, subjecting the children to torture, drug abuse, and ultimately death. This wickedness had no connection to the suffering she had experienced in her own past.

Unlike Anne Hamilton-Byrne in reality, Adrienne did not escape the clutches of the law. One of the cult’s children, Amy, managed to escape from the cult’s headquarters known as Blackmarsh and informed the local police. Detective Joe Saad led a raid on Blackmarsh, rescuing the children. However, Adrienne remained elusive, hiding herself in France to escape punishment. Eventually, she was apprehended and brought back to Melbourne. A mistrial resulted in Adrienne being cleared of all charges.

 Adrienne feigned dementia to avoid facing justice. Under the guise of a mentally ill patient, she continued to operate The Kindred with the assistance of Latham. However, Amy, who had discovered Adrienne’s deception, revealed the cult’s new headquarters to the authorities, and a police raid took place. Adrienne was confronted by the police, and as a helicopter’s blades blew away her wig, her bald head was exposed to everyone. It became clear that her beauty was merely an illusion that had ensnared her followers and concealed her evil face.

How Was Latham’s Trust Broken?

Dr. Bryce Latham, portrayed by Guy Pearce, is a physicist and former professor who serves as a cinematic parallel of Raynor Johnson, the real-life co-founder of the cult “The Family.” In The Clearing, Latham had plans to travel to India to explore Hindu spiritualism when Adrienne Beaufort crossed his path. Enthralled by Adrienne’s charm and intuitive thinking, Latham began to trust her methods. During this time, Adrienne acquired a supply of LSD, which she administered to Latham as a means of “Clearing” his soul. In a hallucinatory state, Latham perceived Adrienne as a divine being, and she proclaimed herself as the enlightened one, “Maitreya.”

Latham and his wife were experiencing marital discord, with each desiring different things in life. Placing their trust in Adrienne, they believed that she would guide them to liberation from their pain and mundane chaos. However, Latham’s trust proved to be misplaced. Despite believing Adrienne to be an enlightened figure, she manipulated him for her own gain. In the climactic moments of The Clearing season 1, as a helicopter approached the new headquarters of The Kindred, Latham maintained his unyielding faith in Adrienne. He believed she would lead them to an alternative dimension where the authorities, referred to as the “Blue Devil” by Adrienne, would not be able to reach them. However, Adrienne revealed her true intentions and attempted to flee, but the police had acquired solid evidence proving that she had been faking her dementia all along and exploiting her followers for financial gain.

Ultimately, Adrienne’s true face was exposed, and she could not escape the consequences of her actions. The police had been able to gather substantial proof of her deceitful behavior and exploitation, putting an end to her reign over The Kindred.

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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