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I've needed to see this movie ever since I heard about it's existence,
unfortunately it was not given a proper release in the UK, so I had to
wait for the US DVD to come out. It's a film about a relationship
between a man with Asperger's Syndrome (Adam) and a young woman (Beth).
As I have Asperger's Syndrome and I heard that this movie was well made
I was understandably interested. I have tended in the past to find
movies and TV shows portraying autism absurd. Fortunately this was not
the case here.
The level of observation here was really very good, small things like how Adam doesn't look at people in the face, how he becomes agitated at work over comments that his boss makes that are meant to be humorous or confidence building (I am used to blank stares from my performance planner when I take things the wrong way).
At one point Adam trembles behind his bedroom door when he is being asked to come out to a social event from the other side, pretending he is not there. I've done that myself. He reminds me of me when I was at university. Food fads is another, Adam has Macaroni Cheese every night of the week. Currently I have a chicken Kiev with raw mushrooms and yellow peppers pretty much every night of the week.
Although he's very talented, he only managed to get the electrical engineering job he holds via his father convincing the boss to hire him. I was never able to convince anyone that I was worth hiring, even though I have a degree from Oxford. After several terrible years following university, I managed to get a job in an office where the head of the office was my brother-in-law. I can do the job well, and am even being promoted, getting in the door is the hard part. In the UK at least, employment rates for people with Asperger's Syndrome are upsettingly low. The idea of selling oneself in an interview doesn't work, and when you're up against people who will bend the truth to get ahead, it's really difficult. That's another good thing the film picked up on, honesty. If you're tired of guys lying to you ladies, pick up an Aspie.
I was personally moved a lot by the beginning of the movie and the end of the movie. There's an excellent introduction using the story of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Saint-Exupéry as a metaphor. I knew at this point that it was going to be a good movie, it is perhaps the most tactful and tender approach to the subject that there could be. I won't spoil the ending of the movie, but from reading what other people have said, it's very easy to mistake what is happening, obliquely, I will recommend that you concentrate on an incident concerning boxes.
I'm a few years older than Adam, and readier than he is, but love has never come my way, as there are not many Beths out there, and being 6ft 7 tall and also stocky I am not exactly of the "non-threatening male" physique typified by Hugh Dancy in this movie. My way of boring people to death with over detail is film, and even though I know that people don't want to know I will still start telling them about the history of film starting in 1888 (or if I'm feeling more loquacious, starting with Muybridge). The stupidest cosmological one I do (like Adam), is explain how novae happen in binary systems with a red giant and white dwarf. More recently I have started telling people why Sirius flickers ;) People think I am trying to make them feel stupid or inferior, which is absolutely not the case, but I still do it even though I know this, I just can't stop myself.
As an autistic, I felt that this movie was extremely tender, but also very educational and instructive, I felt almost like I was a chick being feathered off a tree limb for the first flight. "Adam" does not aim at staggering mise-en-scene, it is not an Antonioni movie, but it is possibly the worthiest film you can see. The worst thing about Asperger's is that there are many people who will tell you, even straight to your face, that it doesn't exist, even a doctor I knew was pretty much of that opinion. People associate mental disability with physical impairment, and because there is none with Asperger's (except sometimes clumsiness, or "gangliness"), for a lot of people it just doesn't register, even though there are defined and recognisable developmental symptoms. This film, in a way, is an acknowledgement that it does exist, and is proof if ever I was cynical enough to believe otherwise, that films can change the world.
As someone who actually does suffer from Asperger's Syndrome, it is easier for me than it might be for some people to understand and relate to many of the things that Adam says and does. I have been apprehensive in the past about viewing films that deal with this sort of subject, as I have learned that many of them paint stereotypical, unrealistic, and occasionally belittling portraits of people in my place or other similar situations. I was pleasantly surprised upon viewing this, as it really hit home in many ways. I often found myself saying "this reminds me of me" when watching Adam live his life from day to day (though we are very dissimilar in that I would never have a tantrum in front of a girl). Finally, this is quite possibly the most down to earth movie of its kind, as there is nothing that happens in it that cannot or is overly unlikely to happen in real life. Unfortunately, I cannot give it a perfect rating, because as impressive as its portrayal of Asperger's syndrome is, the story itself is weak and uninspiring and not as compelling and heart-wrenching as it ought to be.
Greetings again from the darkness. The first feature film from
writer/director Max Mayer is terrific! It is what makes indie films
such a treasure ... a small, little personal story that packs a wallop.
Many will remember Hugh Dancy from King Arthur and Jane Austen Book Club. In both, he was eye candy for the girls. Here he stretches his acting chops as Adam, who lives with Asperger's Syndrome. At first, he just strikes us as a guy with no real social skills. It's not until he meets his new neighbor (Rose Byrne) that we begin to understand why he's just not quite right.
Watching their relationship grown in a believable way is a tribute to both actors and a very solid script. A few sub-plots are juggled: death of a parent, living alone, loss of a job, etc, but the key to the film is the relationship and how it keys in our need to connect.
This is the type of film I wish more people would get a chance to see. It has so much more to offer than the over-hyped Hollywood junk that gets forced down our throats at the local megaplex. Adam won't crack the $200 million gross, but Adam will have an impact on you and create some interesting after-film discussion. Isn't that the real fun of movies anyway?
Having seen "Adam" just last night, I can definitely say that it is one
of the year's best and most touching romantic comedies.
"Adam" stars Hugh Dancy as a man living with Asperger's syndrome who does his best to reach out to his pretty new upstairs neighbor. Due to his condition, Adam isn't the best when it comes to communicating. Though he frequently escapes by submersing himself in the world of space exploration, Adam senses an opportunity for a real human connection after Beth (Rose Byrne) moves into the apartment just upstairs. As Adam attempts to gain control of his off-kilter, sometimes embarrassing social skills, he discovers that with a little patience and understanding, developing a meaningful relationship might not be as hard as he previously thought.
The story is definitely sounds like a different kind of romantic comedy, and that is what it is. It's very different. The relationship between Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne is very genuine. It's very real. The struggles both go through in the film are very well portrayed. Hugh Dancy is wonderful. He had the tough challenge to portray someone who had Asperger's syndrome. His performance was so beautifully done. He was great. Rose Byrne was also brilliant. Her character is attracted to Dancy's character, and further along in the film, she realizes being in a relationship with someone who has Asperger's is definitely something that won't be easy. Byrne's character goes through a lot in the film, and tries to juggle everything with all normal expected human emotion that goes with it. Her character definitely learns a lot throughout the film. Byrne is amazing. Having never heard of Asperger's syndrome before, I walked in with no knowledge of it. The film handled it very well. That's all I can say. It left me with a new interest for Asperger's.
The film had its quirks, smiles, screams, laughs, and tears, but the final product of "Adam" is definitely something to be admired. I'm very glad I saw this film. I recommend this film for everyone. It's a changing film. It changed me. See it. 9/10
Somewhere above the clear skies of a disquieted New York skyline, some
hundreds of billions of miles away there are stars and galaxies,
clusters of light and unknowable beauty speeding away not only from us
but from themselves. Eventually it will get to the point where all is
inevitably lost, and the skies will be filled with an overwhelming
black; nothingness and desolate loneliness for a heaven and a barren,
sun-scorched planet for a home. "That's kind of
sad" says one
character. "Sad?" repeats the nonplussed hobbyist-cosmologist before
turning off his home-brew planetarium. Somewhere within one of these
small gatherings of light lies New York itself, and in its central park
dwell two harmless furry creatures known as Racoons. In the middle of a
giant city, these little guys don't necessarily belong but they just
happen to be there anywaycoming out at night and playing in their own
peaceful isolation when the city closes one eye for the night. This
somewhat romantic dualism of being torn apart from where you should be
and ending up in world quite different from where you naturally belong
is the glue that binds pages of Adam's story together. Brought into
melancholic focus through characters, relationships, the nuances of
ordinary life and a vast array of simplistic but nevertheless
heart-warming sentiments through photography and music, Adam is a
humbled and interesting take on love seen through the eyes of a fellow
wholike those racoonsisn't quite where he ought to be.
A gifted an ostensibly neurotic figure, Adam (Hugh Dancy) is a smart, intelligent and insightful guy-next-door type who day-to-spotlessly-repetitive-day tries to overcome his disability in order to fit in with those he shares his city-life with. As is found out late into the first act of the feature, Adam is affected by Asperger's syndrome; a condition which often means that he cannot by any means tell what other people are thinking simply by reading their faces, body language or figurative words. Instead Adam relies on honesty and literal meaning; without this, he is lost, and to many this in turn makes him out to be a naïve child-like inconvenience. All this comes into play most dramatically however when a new neighbour, Beth (Rose Byrne), moves in above Adam's apartment. Unable to quite go about his attraction to Beth in conventional manners (at one point directly asking if she was "sexually excited because I was."), romantic life it seems isn't about to blow any sympathy points in Adam's direction. After a series of quirky encounters involving Adam's love for space and a particularly intense sequence where he avoids going out with Beth out of fear, the relationship takes its turns and develops slowly but surely into an engaging piece of alternative romance. The result is an interesting look into a convoluted form of love from a different perspective that questions the sometimes trivial dos and don'ts of adult relationships when brought to Adam's plate.
In a way, the movie echoes recent features such as The Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry and last year's Lars and the Real Girl in that it pushes the "disability" of its lead character to be the central point of its narrative rather than fleeting romance. Sure enough, Adam is by no means a sainthe's simply different, and Mayer does well to always restate Adam's humanity despite his disability; this is no mawkish weepy or over-sentimental caricature painting. Like those features mentioned above however, Adam hits the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to dishing out moments of pathos anyway; there's light-hearted, whimsy comedy here; genuine, well-developed characterisation; and romance with drama that feels slightly romanticised but not at the extent of its characters and themes. Indeed, it's not hard to imagine audiences being more than slightly moved by Adam and Beth's somewhat troubled circumstances and this is much to the film's credit in that it plays as a character-piece but feels like a traditional romantic drama without sacrificing the former's traits.
Of course with a feature such as this, it would be easy to pile on the sentiment too heavily resulting in a mawkish and tawdry handkerchief-fest steeped in melodrama but thankfully this is not the case. Instead, Adam is cemented in place with an extremely engaging performance by leading man Hugh Dancy offset with a warm, feminine portrayal by Byrne. The chemistry between the two is as palpable as director Mayer obviously intended, which is kind of refrained in between the back-and-forth nature of Adam and Beth's perceptions of each other. So while not falling for the traditional, formaliac techniques of your average romance, Meyer nevertheless crafts something genuine and real for his characters. At times their romance is sweet and whimsical, at others frantic and awkwardsuch is one of Adam's biggest strengths. This of course will disgruntle some audiences upon which the story's conclusion should bear no redeeming fruit, but for those looking for something a little different there nevertheless remains a certain bittersweet sense of integrity about the story that remains consistent right through to the end. It's by no means a perfect tale, no, but for what it's worth, there's undoubtedly a whole lot of interesting qualities to Adam's plight here that take on a life of their own in the truest sense of the phrase.
Heart-warming with a dry sense of humour always steeped in refrained melancholy, Adam is an impressive and oft moving tale brought to life with memorable performances and a bittersweet account of love and its entwined complexities.
- A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)
The adjectives used to market "Adam" include: romantic, funny,
delightful, poignant, uplifting, humorous. I have to disagree with most
of those, especially: funny, humorous and delightful. A comedy it is
But that's not to say that it isn't good. It's actually quite good. "Adam" is a tumultuous romantic relationship story centered on a young man with Asberger's syndrome. The main characters are Adam (Hugh Dancy), his love interest Beth (Rose Byrne), her father (Peter Gallagher), her mother (Amy Irving) and Adam's guardian (Frankie Faison). Each of these characters have their own story line which perfectly complements the main story. All of the characters have been vividly painted with complexity, emotion, and authenticity.
This is one of the most complete films in terms of quality of writing, direction, and overall superb technical film-making.
Of the adjectives to describe "Adam" I would use: genuine, sentimental, and heartbreaking. It is one of the best written films of its kind, but loses stars because of mis-marketing. It's not even close to a romantic comedy, perhaps it's a romantic drama if it can even be categorized.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Right from the get-go, I knew that Adam was going to be an enjoyable,
smartly told tale of love despite humanity's predilection for
preconceptions. Just the fact that the film was about a young man with
Asperger Syndrome who meets a young girl across the hall of his
apartment complex tells you that this won't be your run-of-the-mill
rom-com. You have to believe that filmmaker Max Mayer will treat the
material with compassion and intelligence; this is not a laugh-out-loud
vehicle to use a serious disorder as fodder for chuckles. Any
trepidation I may have had was gone after about five minutes, just the
amount of time it took to introduce me to our titular character, a span
that teaches us so much. A 29-year-old man who has lived with his
father in NYC his entire life has just lost the one person who
understood him and helped him survive. The vacant stare and inability
to show emotion at the funeral is interspersed with the methodical
routines of his day. We see the chore sheet for which he must cross off
his late duty partner, we see the carefully hung clothing, the boxes of
cereal and macaroni and cheese, and we slowly watch it all dwindle away
as life alone is just too much to handle so soon. I knew then that the
rest of the way would never speak down to me or turn the drama into
One always worries about an actor taking on the task of a mentally disabled role. Sometimes it works, (Rain Man), and sometimes it fails miserably, (I Am Sam) maybe Kirk Lazarus was right, "you never go full retard". But I digress, Hugh Dancy is one of the brightest actors working today, in my opinion, and he knocks this one out of the park. There are moments that linger on his face as his brain works through what has just happened, slowly coming to the realization of what it all means. The expressions are pitch perfect and his portrayal never appears as caricature. With sharp transitions to voracious anger from meek sweetness, the turbulence caught inside of him shows through in those moments that he cannot control himself. As Dancy's Adam states, in a somewhat clunky explanation of the disorder, his condition makes it difficult for him to lie. That mechanism we all possessand loveto tell the odd white lie and appease those in our company rather than rile them up is absent from him. He speaks the truth, and in return, expects the truth back. Understanding this concept can be tough as a lie is a lie; even if the intentions were pure, the difference can't be seen.
His explosions never escalate to violence towards anyone but himself, although the scene can be scary. More a tantrum than anything else, the emotions inside him are released without control. Words are spoken in a very pragmatic and objective way, something that could be misunderstood, or not, they are his true feelings at the moment after all. **spoilers begin** Because of this, I saw the ending as profound due to the duality in Adam's response to Beth's question on why he wanted her to go with him to California. It starts out as though he will win her heartby a truth so sweet and romanticwith the words that title this review, but then it all goes sour. His brain sees the question as one that has a correct answer, and that answer is that he needs her to survive. He needs a normal person to help him in the day to day routine, to be his sort of translator to the world. The hard part to witnessing his response is the not knowing what he means by it. Is a person with Aspergers unable to love? Is love to them safety and companionship? Or was his answer his brain's way of saying that she completes him? That she is his world? Love is such an abstract concept that whether he feels it or not, he could never truly express it in words. And that is the true tragedy of life. **spoilers end** Much like another slightly off-kilter romantic comedy this summer, (500) Days of Summer, the ending may be a happy one, just not quite the anticipated "happily ever after" Hollywood has ingrained in our heads. Adam takes all the conventions of the genre and utilizes them to fit the story, not the other way around. The film takes what it needs to be palatable to a broad audience, but never forgets the agenda at its core. For all the quirks and idiosyncrasies involved, they aren't there to be "fresh" or "cool," they are present because the lead character has them. More than a romance, Adam is about a broken man finding his way in life. A lifetime co-dependent realizing that there is a world out there he can become a part of if he has the strength to work at it and try. Beth is the catalyst for his awakening, and he hers too. She finds out that there are people out there who are innocent and sweet; that humanity isn't complete rubbish. Sometimes we meet the person for which we will spend the rest of our lives with in bliss, and other times, first, we must meet someone to remind us that the happily ever after is still possible.
Having a son-in-law that has Aspergers symptoms, I found the movie to
be quite realistic in a non-Hollywood way. It didn't stoop to many of
the clichés that several movies trying to tackle this subject fell
The lead actor did a great job portraying the attitude and personality of someone with Aspergers. His portrayal was quite well done, and accurate to real life situations He obviously did his homework when researching the character and the side effects of Aspergers syndrome.
Unfortunately, I found the lead female character (and the script components related to this character) to be less than believable. My personal opinion is that people with Aspergers syndrome tend to have a lack of empathy for other people (as portrayed in this movie), so it requires someone with extra empathy and forgiveness to be able to understand and relate to them (unless of course the partner has Aspergers themselves, which helps them understand and relate to the other person).
She didn't portray herself as an overly empathetic person, especially when dealing with her father's problems. Most children would be empathetic to their own parents first and foremost. She seemed to be forgiving of the lead characters flaws, but didn't really show a lot of emotion during the tense situations and unusual circumstances that cropped up.
Other than that, I thought it was a very good movie touching on this subject. If it weren't for the weak script and the issues with the lead female characterization, I would have given it a 10.
Fresh and tangy, "Adam" is not your typical summer romance. The comedy
emerges naturally from the situations that surround two appealing
characters who develop a sweet, slightly complicated relationship. The
acting is strong, especially Hugh Dancy's characterization of the title
character. Rose Byrn as Beth is as easy to watch as she is easy to
I liked writer and director Max Mayer's ideas. Other people might have used a broader brush, but Mayer's narrative develops a simple momentum and a believable conclusion. Mayer avoids deliberate gags or gag-reflex resolution, and creates a film that is tender and very pretty. Adding to "Adam"'s appeal was the astronomy motif with its layers of stars, planets and pulsars. I thought the metaphor linking the the universe's creation to the distance that separates objects in space was particularly resonant, and I encourage people to pay attention to shooting stars.
I've been meaning to watch Adam for quite some time now and the film
matched my expectations. The good thing about small independent films
is that the stories are usually very personal and rich. That's the case
with Adam, a film with substance and meaning. The film begins with the
29 year old Adam attending his father funeral and then returning to a
lonely empty house. Beth, a writer damaged from a past relationship
moves into the building where Adam lives and soon they meet. Adam is
handsome but he's also odd and awkward. He suffers from Asperger
syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that causes difficulties in
social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of
behavior and interests. Despite this, Adam is very bright and Beth
takes an interest in him. This leads to a relationship but, is it
right? Are they fit for each other?... Adam is not so much a romantic
comedy but more of a character study as it shows Adam and Beth learning
and growing from each other and stepping into unfamiliar territory.
Hugh Dancy is tremendous as the lead character Adam and his portrayal
never appears as a caricature. Instead he relies on small gestures and
certain facial expressions which results in a very moving and
impressive performance. Rose Byrne was very good as Beth as well,
although I wish her character had been better written. I say this
because sometimes, she is extremely sensitive to Adam's condition but
on a few occasions she almost seems to forget about it. Peter
Gallagher, Rose Byrne and Amy Irving compose the supporting cast with
Gallagher doing a terrific job (as usual) as Beth's father. Adam
doesn't have the clichéd happy ending so usual in Hollywood, instead it
presents us with an authentic and realistic conclusion that felt very
satisfying. Adam is a breath of fresh air, it's a genuine film with a
very moving and well written story.
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