Adam

2009-09-08 09:22
 

What it's about:

Adam Raki (Hugh Dancy) is a young man living a solitary life in New York, mostly due to his battle with Asperger's Syndrome. He meets a new neighbour, Beth, (Rose Byrne) who encourages a more open and social side to Adam. As their romance flourishes, Adam's condition plays an ever-increasing role in their lives, especially when Beth's father Marty (Peter Gallagher) gets involved.

What we thought:

Watch the trailer to Adam. In 60 seconds it tells of a poignant romance between a young man who can't help but wear his heart on his sleeve, and his sweet dalliance with the girl of his dreams. Only the full-length version of this fairytale doesn’t quite play out the way it's lulled you into thinking.

Asperger's is an autism-like condition characterised by social inadequacy, clumsiness and difficulty in communicating verbally. But as Adam so delightfully exclaims, "I'm not Forrest Gump, you know?" He is fascinated by astronomy and space exploration, and has one person in his life whom he trusts completely, Harlan (Frankie Faison), a war vet who served with Adam's recently deceased father.

The best moments are when these two get together over lunch and talk about what's happening in their lives. Attuned to Adam's eccentricities, Harlan lets Adam know when he's being too weird (which is often) and is his one true link to the real world. Hugh Dancy puts in a wonderful performance as the impenetrable title character, and counters Adam's sometimes debilitating inadequacies with a winning charm that is writ large all over his warm, open-hearted face. The actor researched his character by interviewing many real-life Asperger's sufferers and certainly brings authenticity to the role. And his smile is simply magnetic.

What's missing from the movie is rather essential – a discernable plot, something meaty for audiences to hold on to as they invest 100 minutes of their lives to an artistic enterprise. It's not really asking for much. Boy meets girl, sparks fly, albeit waywardly, they're both attractive and have a quaint chemistry due to Adam's condition. But the unique tensions that their thoroughly modern romance present don’t really materialise.

Dancy has said that he was unaware that the movie was actually a romantic comedy during filming, and a few scenes of intense emotional distress on Adam's part might play true to the nature of dealing with Asperger's, but confuse the otherwise light and quirky tone of the movie.

The movie then gets sidetracked by a sub-plot involving Beth's charismatic father and his trial on fraud charges. It hampers an already meandering pace, and is intended as the stumbling block to the budding romance, but it's never made clear.

What we're left with is a wasted opportunity. Adam has a few strong points going for it – a magnificent cast, a curious little romantic entanglement, and sheer whimsy in the face of life's hardships – but never manages to fully capiltalise on any of them. And that's a real shame.


A story about two strangers, one a little stranger than the other.

Daantjie Badenhorst 2009/09/08 11:11 AM
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I suffer from Asperger Syndrome, and therefore I will definitely make an effort to see it, no matter what reviews it gets.
Bobo 2009/09/08 3:02 PM
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Loved the movie. Hated the review.
nunu 2009/09/08 4:16 PM
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we have seen the similar movies like this one so a bit of spice will do.
preshen goveder 2009/09/09 9:35 AM
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I have a dog named Syndrome every time he barks I say : “ Down Syndrome, Down Syndrome”
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