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Profoundly sensitive and instructive movie for those with AS and without
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.
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The Prince and The Pilot
ferguson-68 September 2009
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?
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Wow--this is a GREAT film!
planktonrules30 January 2014
A long time ago, I was a social worker and then a family therapist. Later, I taught psychology. During the course of this, I worked with a few folks with Autism spectrum disorders--including Asperger's Syndrome. Now I am NOT an expert but know enough by teaching about it, knowing folks with it (including a few of my students) and reading up on it to know whether or not a film that deals with this topic gets it right or wrong. It was because of this background I was excited to watch "Adam"--to see if I finally found a film that got it right. This is because although a lot of folks on the internet talk about this disorder (and many claim to have it--though in most cases this seems to be done to excuse boorish behavior) but few folks REALLY understand what it is. I sure wish I'd had this film available to me when I was teaching--it sure would have provided a nice example for my students.

I won't spend a lot of time discussing what Asperger's is--though it would make sense to briefly explain it. People with Asperger's are generally quite normal. However, they are socially inept--having great difficulty picking up on normal social cues, understanding polite conversation and relating to people in a healthy manner. It's as if they are socially retarded--generally unable to understand nuances, metaphors or things such as sarcasm or inferences. But, on the other hand, intellectually (aside from the social aspects) they are very normal and even sometimes brilliant. They are also incredibly literal in their thinking and speech. For someone to build a relationship with an individual like this is possible...though it certainly poses challenges.

Adam (Hugh Dancy) is a nice young man who lives alone and works with computers and loves astronomy. He happens to strike up a conversation with his neighbor, Beth (Rose Byrne) and slowly they become friends. But, early on, it's obvious to Beth that there is something wrong with Adam. When he tells her he was diagnosed with Asperger's, she learns more about him--such as how to interact with him as well as his social shortcomings. And, despite this problem, she learns to love him and vice-versa. The movie then unfolds--and addresses the unspoken salient point--is loving a person enough when you're in a relationship?

The writer/director of this film is Max Mayer. It's obvious that Max either knows someone with the diagnosis or he really, really did his homework. The film very accurately portrays someone with these life challenges--and Hugh Dancy was amazing in the film--simply amazing. I also really, really appreciated how the movie did NOT simply give way to sentiment or stuff itself with clichés, film formula or false nobility. Realism and integrity of the characters is what made this film really work for me.

If you do see this exceptional film (and I strongly recommend you do), a couple things I noticed that you may also like are Dancy's amazing performance which includes no trace of his British accent (as well as Byrne's Aussie accent) as well as the cute scene with Beth reading to her young students. The way the little kids talked about "The Emperor's New Clothes"--and how some just didn't get it at all--was very realistic. Apparently, Mayer also really understands kids and child development! What a great film--and one of the few movies where I have NOTHING negative to say about it!

I loved how Dancy said in the making of for this film "He's not just a syndrome...he's a guy....". THAT is what makes this film so special.
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You are a part of me … Adam
jaredmobarak18 August 2009
Warning: 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 farce.

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 possess—and love—to 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 heart—by a truth so sweet and romantic—with 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.
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"Adam" is one of the best written films of its kind
napierslogs5 July 2010
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 not.

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.
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Realistic, well-written portrayal of a frequently misunderstood subject
g-zimmerman120 August 2009
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.
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Adam, he doesn't belong here, but yet, here he is
imdbbl30 December 2009
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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Heart-warming with a dry sense of humour always steeped in refrained melancholy,
Otoboke14 August 2009
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 (
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A Beautiful Film.
stiff513 August 2009
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
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Astronomical Adam
cheryllynecox-130 August 2009
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 like.

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.
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Good movie referencing the topic of Aspergers
Klaaatu29 December 2009
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 into.

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.
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A breath of fresh air for the rom-com
rogerdarlington22 August 2009
The chances of you seeing this movie on the big screen are close to zilch since it's had such a limited cinematic release, so be sure to catch it on television or DVD because it is a rom-com with a special edge.

Although the couple are young Americans in New York City, it is the British Hugh Dancy who gives an excellent performance as the eponymous IT professional and amateur stargazer who suffers badly from Asperger's Syndrome, while it is the Australian actress Rose Byrne who is delightful as the young woman willing to make the effort to understand him.

The treatment of AS is handled sensitively, but not without humour, and the ending avoids the temptation to be trite. A real accomplishment then for the American Max Meyer who both wrote and directed and whose previous writing and directing has been almost entirely for the theatre
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Refreshingly Realistic Portrayal of Aspie Life in Winning Romantic Dramedy
dtb17 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As the mother of a bright, beautiful, winsome young lady who has been living with ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome all her life, constantly astounding skeptics with her continuing scholastic and social success, I can assure you that ADAM really captures what life is like for adult Aspies living on their own, and the people who love them. Written and directed with humor and clear-eyed compassion by Max Mayer, and engagingly acted by a wonderful cast, this low-key romantic dramedy made me laugh and cry for all the right, non-manipulative reasons. Actors playing people with Asperger's or other developmental or physical issues all too often come across as showy and "actor-y," but Hugh Dancy's sensitive performance in the title role avoids all that; watching him, I felt like I knew him as well as I know my daughter.

I could also identify with Rose Byrne as Beth, the neighbor who comes to know, love, and understand Adam -- which is not to say it's all hearts and flowers from then on, especially since Beth has her own unrelated issues. Mayer clearly did his homework, keeping it real by avoiding Hollywood-type nonsense. For example, I found it refreshing that while Adam made progress over the course of the film, his love for Beth didn't magically cure him of Asperger's, or any such clichéd foolishness. The way things turn out in their relationship is bittersweet yet uplifting, satisfying, and believable. Having said that about Hollywood nonsense, as a native New Yorker, I must say that in the scenes showing the couple's nighttime star-gazing trips to Central Park (Adam is an engineer with a passion for astronomy), I half-expected them to be mugged any minute! :-) (Fun Fact: Although Dancy and Byrne both play native New Yorkers, Dancy is British and Byrne is Australian. I thought they shed their accents quite convincingly.) I loved ADAM, and I highly recommend that everyone see it, but I think Aspies and their loved ones will especially appreciate this fine little film's ring of truth.
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'ADAM' is a man, not a disease
gradyharp1 February 2010
ADAM is one of those movies you hope that the film-making industry will continue to make - films that are not reliant on big budget and special effects to succeed, but instead films with stories that are meaningful and enrich the lives of the viewers, Max Mayer wrote and directed this very fine film that deals with an extraordinary 29 year gifted man who happens to also have Asperger's Syndrome - a form of autism that the straightforward dialogue of the script defines beautifully without depending on a voice over explanation.

Adam Raki (a brilliant performance by Hugh Dancy) has been living an ordered life with his father: as the film opens Adam is at his father's graveside following a his funeral. Adam is a genius completely consumed with knowledge of outer space and space technology. He works for a toy factory designing chips to animate toys. His best friend is Harlan (Frankie Faison), an old war buddy of his deceased father, who understands Adam's mental dilemma and is ever present to help him adjust and feel 'normal'. Adam lives in the apartment/condo in New York that he had shared with his father. A new tenant moves in above Adam, one Beth Buchwald (Rose Byrnne) who teaches school and is recovering from a broken relationship. Very gradually Adam and Rose connect (the development of this love relationship is one of the most sensitive and uniquely satisfying on film) and Rose learns to appreciate Adam's worth and begins to see a relationship developing despite the warnings of her parents (Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving). But when Rose's father is exposed in a scandal and must face prison, Rose's need for stability and for caring for her mother supersedes her need for Adam. Adam loses his job and is offered work in California, work that directly involves space exploration topics! These changes in the focus of life alter the flow of the love relationship between Adam and Beth and they make their choices. Both Adam and Beth learn to view the world differently than before they met and that is enough.

Hugh Dancy has obviously studied people with Asperger's Syndrome, but the manner in which he convincingly plays this role is not one of mimicking or parody: Adam is a thoroughly realized, complex, enormously gentle, lovable being. This is a performance so rich in subtleties that it begs for recognition as an Oscar contender. The entire cast is excellent, no doubt in large part due to the sensitive direction by Max Mayer. The cinematography and the music score are standouts, helping to make this one of the truly fine films of the past year.

Grady Harp
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Dan-Mika2 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
As an adult with Aspergers, the movie was almost painful to watch in its reality. The scene where he doesn't go out with Beth and her friends. When he asks her if she wants sex (we are so used to misreading other people's non-verbal communication that you get in the habit of asking about those kind of things). His literal honesty with Beth. What losing his father and his job does to him. How unexpected change just blows his world apart. A very accurate picture of how we live, and how things affect us differently than the "normal" population.

My wife was sad when Adam and Beth broke up when he went out to California. My response was, "They ended up back together". The reason Adam said he HAD to go out to California by himself was because he had to show Beth that he COULD make it without her, he just didn't WANT to. That was something that he didn't know how to verbalize. And, if she truly understood him, she would then realize that, and come out to California.

When people ask me what Asperger's is like, all I do is tell them to watch this movie.
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Moving, impressive, and a superb performance
aharmas26 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Dancy doesn't miss a step with a performance that brings forth the difficulties and tribulations of living with autism, being unable to interact with others normally, feeling frustrated, angry, sad, and misunderstood, or worse, not being able to understand why one can't truly become part of the other world, and seeing yourself through the fearful and curious eyes of others who don't get you.

In the midst of this crisis, there is the seed of a love relationship between two people who have suffered through difficult interactions with others. Dancy, as Adam, and Byrne as Beth couldn't be more perfect for each other, if they weren't so different. At one point, one couldn't agree anymore with her father as he tells her that he couldn't ever be anything but a child, or just wonder whether she is mature enough to deal with his complex nature.

There are two stories in "Adam", one where a daughter discovers the truth in her family and herself, and another where a young man tries to break out of a shell or at least emerge from it in order to survive. Adam is a fighter and we rarely doubt he won't make it, but it will be an arduous journey because his limitations are huge and the process of adaptation much more difficult than it is for most us.

Beautifully written the story follows Adam and Beth as they learn to understand each other, grow together and eventually must make a life decision. Simultaneously, Beth's family shows up with their own set of problems, and these will have a direct effect on the fragile union of the two young people. Gallagher and Irving do excellent supportive work as another apparently mismatched couple who somehow has made it through some rough patches. Their own story foreshadows the resolution of the problems Beth and Adam face.

In order to succeed, the film needs a great performance, and Dancy delivers just that, a technical flawless turn that manages to impress us as he shows every reaction, every tick, every moment of fear and hesitation that somehow is not fully understood by the man himself, but it is there and it's unmistakable; what is most impressive, is that his performance is profoundly emotive, giving us the opportunity to relate to his own fears much in the way than previous performances showing autism haven't quite been able to convey. We've seen some actors who appear to mimic a moment in the life of an autistic man or woman, but rarely we have been able to see the cries of a soul who yearns to belong, to connect, to communicate with his beloved one and tell them that they love them because somehow that sort of language is unavailable.

Hugh Dancy does marvelous work and should be recognized and rewarded for it is his time on the screen that gives us the chance to learn more about the situations and emotions of others in this world. It is hard to go through this world when we are supposedly "normal". Imagine what is like trying to survive when a emotional link won't allow you to express or receive emotions that we take for granted. "Adam" is a much welcome entry in this year's best movies.
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Wonderful film!
satchela30 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I had the privilege of viewing this movie on Tues. night. I was in eager anticipation, as the subject of mental health is a passion of mine.

For me, the movie was bittersweet. We see how Adam grows from a lonely introvert to a sensitive and serious man, who experiences love in spite of his challenges. Whether or not this love works out, is not the issue; it's what Adam learns along the way about life that I feel is beautiful.

The portrayal of Rose's father is so important to the film, in my opinion. We find this so called "normal" person who epitomizes those who are still in fear of a person with mental illness. Buchwald only sees the outside of a person and doesn't really give Adam a chance to show his inner self, talents and strengths. How ironic it is that Mr. Buchwald turns out to be the true "mentally ill" person in the film! Unfortunately, many people in our society still have similar beliefs about those who are "different". By educating people about those who are "challenged", hopefully the stigma of mental illness can be lifted.

This film made me laugh, made me cry and made me think! As far as I am concerned, when a movie has those characteristics, it has been a huge success. I don't know any movie that has moved me like this in a long, long time!
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Coming-of-age, with a twist
harry_tk_yung28 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Among many other things (especially a rom-com), "Adam" is first and foremost a coming-of-age movie, with a twist: rather than biological age, it is mental/psychological age.

The main plot line is simple: a cheerful and outgoing girl Beth (Rose Byrne) moving out from an affluent suburban home to work in Manhattan meets a neighbour, a sweet but somewhat strange young man Adam (Hugh Dancy) that was later discovered to have Aspergers, a sort of autistic disorder within a broad spectrum of its definition. Romance ensues. There are subplots (her family problems, his work problems etc) that augment the development of the story but their relationship is the main focus.

The reason I describe this movie as coming-of-age while the protagonist is already a full-grown adult hinges on the symptoms of Aspergers. At the start, Adam doesn't come across as someone with a mental disorder although the way he speaks is a little eccentric. We gradually find out more, culminating in Adam explaining his conditions to Beth (he is fully aware of his own problem). Very crudely simplified, the way his brain works creates an obstacle in his ability to communicate with people. Outwardly, he is shy and socially inapt. More technically, he can only interpret messages in concrete terms. A pun is lost to him. So are subtle emotions. When he meets strangers, his security blanket is to incessantly rattle away with facts and figures, totally oblivious to the recipient's feeling (which is, obviously, usually boredom). In compensation, he is kind, considerate, has a sweet smile (when he remembers to), can occasionally make simple jokes and work hard to improve himself (e.g. preparation for job interviews). The fact that Beth can fall in love with him is entirely believable, and the chemistry between the two actors makes it even more convincing.

But there is still a child in the corner of Adam's mind. The start of the movie shows the funeral of Adam's father, with whom he has always been living. While on the surface, life seems to carry on as normal and there is a good friend of his father's that helps watching over him in major affairs (such as the very modest estate) Adam is not a completely independent adult. When Beth comes along, while their relationship is primarily an endearing romance, she also becomes in a way his security blanket, emotionally and practically both. Things come to a head when another of his weak spots is hit – his vehement detestation for a "lie", regardless of how well-meaning it is. In response to his abrupt, emotional outburst, she yells back "F.. Aspergers, you're a f.. child!". While I wouldn't go into details, suffices to say that while slightly unpredictable, the movie closes with an upbeat, open ending that is optimistic about Adam's mental coming of age process and the relationship between these two young people.

Hugh Dancy, dashing and gallant as Galahad in "King Arthur" (2004) and absolutely adorable as the only male member of "Jane Austin Book Club" (2007), has made good use of the opportunity in this movie to tackle a very challenging role, nailing the character with precision. Rose Byrne, after an assortment of minimum-to-supporting roles and then an unmemorable lead in "Knowing" (2009) opposite Nicholas Cage, establishes herself in this movie as a female lead that movie makers should seek after. Hope to see more of both of them.

The story-telling is smooth flowing and relaxingly paced, with occasional uses of montages (e.g. the parallel running of the trial scene of Beth's father and Adam's preparation for a job interview). The thoughtful photography gives Manhattan (particularly Central Park) a welcomed laid-back look. "Adam; can be watched as a high-quality rom-com but has even more to offer.
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Overall, it's pretty good
Wizard-813 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I had a special interest in seeing "Adam" that the majority of viewers don't have - I myself have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. I don't have it to the degree that the title character of the film has (I was only diagnosed after I graduated from high school), but I could relate to many of Adam's quirks. Eating the same kinds of food over and over... stressed with first encounters with people... not liking to be touched... I could relate to stuff like this, and it was sometimes painful to watch some particular behavior I have managed to outgrow. I could believe this character for the most part.

Most of the rest of the movie is pretty good - I particularly liked the fact the ending felt more realistic than you might think it will be. I do have a few minor quibbles, however. The subplot with Beth's father in trouble with the law didn't seem to fit. Adam has a violent outburst at one point that seems out of character. And Adam/Beth consummate their relationship too early. But overall the movie is an interesting look at a condition that hasn't received too much publicity.
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christophe9230018 October 2012
Adam is a movie that has some good points. The acting is pretty good, especially Hugh Dancy's that made a good job at portraying Adam trough a whole range of emotions. The direction is also pretty good, simple yet effective, with no editing mistakes.

But the real flaw of this film is its scenario. It lacks substance and density, a strong captivating plot. Ultimately the movie feels kind of superficial, under-developed and a bit too conventional, still it manages to unfold smoothly.

The ending was a non happy one which is always interesting, but it left me a bit unsatisfied though I wouldn't be able to explain why.

An average movie overall.
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Adam says what he means and means what he says.
jeromec-215 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I have to begin by saying that I liked this film. I'd gladly have any of the characters as my next door neighbours. It seemed to me as I watched that I was looking at something very personal and very compelling, but I wasn't really a Peeping Tom. The characters were more or less inviting me into their lives. They seemed to want me to say just what I've said. "You're all complex interesting people." Adam was not the only one with limitations.

Beth is probably the subtlest of all the characters, so start with her. If one is not careful, one could come to a very unsympathetic conclusion. She states her reasons pretty clearly.

"We would never be able to look in each others eyes and know what the other was feeling," Beth says to her mother.

That sounds like it's a cruel summary of Asperger's Syndrome, but it's really not. Beth is a writer. She makes her living by appealing to our feelings. She does not understand the problem of not being able to communicate without emotion. In a way she too is severely handicapped, so much so that her mother has to explain the difference between feeling loved and loving.

She asks Adam what he means by love. He starts off really well by stumbling through a confession of his conclusion that she was part of him. Then he makes a mistake (in her eyes) and says he needs her to help him through all the things he can't do. She can't bridge the two things; and she should have been able to.

Adam is the central character of this movie. Everything revolves around his growth. By the end, he knows how to help people, he knows how to get from home to work and back again. Instead of having to ask what people were feeling, he has clues. We hope that Beth will grow up as much as he has. It would seem I have this backwards, because it is he who cannot feel. If he cannot feel the way we think of it, at least he can navigate through it awkwardly, but he can navigate. I doubt he would blow up at Beth's small manipulation with the same energy that he damned her father for his dishonest handling of one of his client's books with which she later concurred (Beth's father is an accountant).

It sounds like I've sided with him rather than her. Not true. To her, he looks like one more relationship that failed. She does not know or she does not seem to know, how much she means to him. He is willing to go off and face his demons for her.

He knows by the end that he is ready. We hope she will hear his closing line after giving a typical Adam answer to telescopes he has learned to charm his audience. He says, "Maybe it's better to just look up in the sky."

Maybe if she remembers what she says about herself at the beginning she will be ready.

"When I was young, my father told me about the little prince. He said I was the little prince because the little prince taught the pilot to love. After I met Adam, I found out I was the pilot."
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In the stars
jotix1005 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes mental disorders are romanticized in the movies, something that Hollywood loves to do. When a plausible story, told from a different perspective, comes along, it is worth a visit to see how independent creators deal with the situation, which is at the center of "Adam".

When we meet Adam, he is preparing to go to his father's funeral. His good friend, Harlan, accompanies him to the cemetery. Adam looks as though his world had collapsed with this loss. He is some sort of electrical engineer, working in a small firm. When his boss comes to tell him he is being let go, Adam seems to come to a stop.

The arrival of the young woman to the brownstone where he lives, marks a change for Adam; he is attracted to Beth, a writer of children's books, and working as a teacher. She exudes a radiant beauty that does not escape Adam's attention. As they become friendly, he announces he is suffering from Asperger Syndrome, an illness much like autism. Adam, who can be charming, begins to fall in love with Beth.

A girl from the suburbs, Beth is shaken when her father confesses of an investigation where he is suspected of having been involved. As she becomes more involved with Adam, she is guarded because of a recent painful experience that she ended not long ago. When she invites Adam to see a play with her, Beth took the opportunity to introduce him to her parents. Adam, finds out the deception. When an offer comes from an observatory in California, he asks Beth to go with him, but she does not have it in her, or perhaps, she is not quite ready for a commitment with this mentally challenged man.

"Adam", written and directed by Max Mayer, is an enjoyable film about two people that are attracted to one another, but in the end, they are separated by a reality that makes the Asperger sufferer, Adam, resign an uncertain future with Beth. One of the assets of the film lies in its plausibility. We realize the difficulties in such a relationship.

Hugh Dancy is wonderful as Adam, and Rose Byrne makes a good impression as Beth. The rest of the cast, lovely Amy Irving and Peter Gallagher, seen as Beth parents are fine as well. Frankie Faison appears as Harlan. Seamus Tierney, the director of photography gives a nice rendering of the Manhattan where the action takes place. Christopher Lennertz contributed the tuneful music score that blends well with the movie.
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Kirpianuscus30 July 2017
I admit: as admirer of Hugh Dancy, I am far to be objective. but, honestly, "Adam" is a great film. provocative, delicate, complex story. a friendship real special. a profound vulnerable character who gives to public the map of a special universe of mind. a courageous girl. and the patience, perseverance, bravery to discover, understand and accept the other. this is all. at the first sigh. because it is not a story about an Asperger syndrome case. it is not one of the many dramatic love stories. it is a smart film. about its viewers more than about its characters. a film about passion, refuges, fear, insecure, about social links and about the need to be part of the other . so simple. but this detail does it real, real special.
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Biased review by an autistic
violet_raven29 April 2021
So, I watched this movie with my autistic ex, before I knew I was autistic myself. My review is biased because I was trying the whole time to understand the motivations of the female character, Beth, and I found her to be completely incomprehensible. Fast forward a few years, and I realise it's because she's the Neurotypical in the relationship, so of course her motivations and actions are incomprehensible to me.

Adam's role was played fantastically, there were several points that moved me to tears. Particularly the scene where he hears Beth at the door, asking him to come out, but even though he wants to, he can't. It was a perfect prtrayal of social anxiety.

The only reason I don't rate it much higher is because it was also cringey in parts to watch and I found it uncomfortable. I don't like the feeling of watching people do socially awkward things and feel painful empathy on their behalf; it's like watching all of my social faux pas played out on screen. It's not a bad movie, I think objectively it was done very well, I just didn't personally like everything about it.

It is a decent portrayal of male autism. For an excellent portrayal of female autism watch Please Stand By, and for a perfect visual expression of pattern matching watch Temple Grandin, particularly the scenes with the wallpaper and the spoons.

There were, however, a few things about this movie that I feel were irresponsible on the part of the film makers.

The movie implies that it is too difficult for autistic people to have relationships. Yes, it's difficult in different ways than it would be for neurotypicals, but I don't like the way they choose to show that. I also just really didn't like how Beth insinuated herself in Adam's life for no apparent reason (that I could understand). I feel that for an autistic audience her motivations could have been explained somehow, because she was a bit baffling. I also worry that if this is the only movie anyone sees about autism, it gives a bit of an off perspective. The dialogue in the scenes with the racoons made me uncomfortable. We're not all that weird.

I do like that it showed an autistic who was able to work with correct accommodations in place, and when those were taken away he struggled. I liked that they showed how he was able to come up with creative solutions to problems, even though those were not the same ones an NT would have. I like that they showed him info-dumping at a party (when you talk at length about your special subject of interest because it's something you feel comfortable with because small-talk is too complicated to navigate) and his avoidance of eye contact.

I feel like I'm being mean to rate it so low, you know what I'll put it up to an 8. It is a really good film, like I said, I just don't like it. I hated Beth so I had no female protagonist to relate to and from memory (I saw it in about 2015 and don't intend to watch it again) I don't think it passes the Bechdel Test. Nah, you know what I'm leaving it at a 7.

That's my personal, subjective vote. I liked it better than Mary and Max, anyway.
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Well worth watching
studioAT2 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I bought 'Adam' on a bit of a whim really. I didn't really know any of the actors involved or much about Aspergers itself so I went into it without any preconceptions.

What follows is a strange mix of Drama and Romantic Comedy with the relationship between the two leads being both complex and at times heartwarming. I think the DVD sleeve makes it out to be more of a fluffy Rom-com than what it actually is and the mental illness side is as much a part of it as the lighter moments.

I know some people have been negative about the ending but for me it is an ultimately hopeful one that breaks the conventions that we are normally used to in films these days. This isn't a film you can easily put into a genre category but if you stick with it, it is a charming film.
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