Writer: Jonathan Sullivan
Originally posted on Film Junk

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Starring: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher
Writer/Director: Max Mayer
Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Adam is an interesting movie, a mix of both quirky independent romantic comedy and a serious character study that helps inform people about the trials and tribulations of the form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Hugh Dancy stars as the title character, a man who faces being alone after the death of his father. Unable to connect on a social level with others, he spends his time by himself, repeating the same activities and wearing the same clothes over and over, and throws himself into both his job at a toy company and his love of space. One day, he runs into Beth (Rose Byrne), his new neighbor at his apartment complex, and the two begin to hit it off. Beth, having just gotten out of a relationship with a horrible excuse for a human being, is drawn to Adam because he is nice and honest (and “hawt”). Adam is scared at first, because of his disorder and is afraid to tell her, but still falls for her regardless. Finally, he spills the beans and while Beth is unsure, she enters into a relationship with him anyway. As happy as they are, the hurdles of dealing with Asperger’s are still there, as well as the disapproval of Beth’s father Marty (Peter Gallagher), who is having troubles of his own that threaten to destroy Beth’s family.

This film could have easily failed miserably with the premise, but thanks to a great script and the ability of its two leads, Adam becomes a movie worth watching. Hugh Dancy is absolutely great as Adam, making the character come to life. As someone who has grown up with someone who had Asperger’s Syndrome, I was surprised how well Dancy represented the disorder on the screen. Everything he does, from the awkward pauses to the physical mannerisms (including never looking anyone in the eyes when talking to them) adds believability. He is not just an actor, he is Adam and he never once feels like he is just playing a role. Rose Byrne is completely loveable as Beth. She is just so damn nice and understanding that it makes you angry that girls like this don’t exist in your own life. Even though Adam has a hard time relating and being able to be there for her emotionally, she likes him anyway and helps make it work. The montage of Beth trying to help Adam be able to overcome his syndrome to have a successful job interview is just endearing and one of my favorite sequences in recent memories. Even though you sometimes don’t understand exactly why they are together, you believe they are able to coexist as a couple and display some tremendous chemistry together.

As big as the love story between Adam and Beth is in the film, it also serves the dual purpose of educating the moviegoer about the effects of Asperger’s on both the person afflicted and the people around them. While this is handled very well for the most part, occasionally Adam ventures into “flat out” territory, where it’ll just tell you as opposed to letting you get the feel. When Adam tells Beth about his disorder, she goes to someone she works with and the lady explains the disorder and all the quirks that go with it like she’s talking to a classroom. I was expecting her to just turn and face the camera and a phone number for more information to splash on the screen. I preferred when you were supposed to get the sense of it instead of having it explained to you.

Adam also has a couple other minor problems, mainly with its pace. On the whole, it moves pretty briskly, but towards the end it felt like it was being dragged out and could have been resolved a lot quicker. I also did not like the ending, preferring the alternate ending included in the Special Features of the DVD more.

Although it has its very minor issues, Adam is a very enjoyable viewing experience, finally being quirky for a reason rather than to try to stick out. The strong performances and interesting story are well worth a watch, especially if you already like these types of films.

Final Verdict:

B+




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