Soon after moving in, Beth, a brainy, beautiful writer damaged from a past relationship encounters Adam, the handsome, but odd, fellow in the downstairs apartment whose awkwardness is perplexing. Beth and Adam's ultimate connection leads to a tricky relationship that exemplifies something universal: truly reaching another person means bravely stretching into uncomfortable territory and the resulting shake-up can be liberating.Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Both leading actors use American accents. See more »
In response to Beth's query about what "10 to the minus 39th power" means, Adam states that it is the number represented by a decimal point followed by 39 zeros followed by a "1". Actually, it is the number represented by a decimal point followed by 38 zeros followed by a "1". See more »
My favorite children's book is about a little prince who came to Earth from a distant asteroid. He meets a pilot whose plane has crashed in a desert. The little prince teaches the pilot many things but mainly about love. My father always told me I was like the little prince. But after I met Adam, I realized I was the pilot all along...
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Heart-warming with a dry sense of humour always steeped in refrained melancholy,
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 anyway—coming 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 who—like those racoons—isn'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 saint—he'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 awkward—such 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)
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