For some reason though, the promising premise felt kind of flat, movie seemed much longer than it actually was , and I found myself getting bored with the whole thing. The film definitely has it's moments and is worth a watch, but personally I thought it could have been much more than what it actually was.
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.
Adam works so well because Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne make their relationship seem semi-believable. It's not a stretch to accept that their interactions and the things that happen to them, somewhat represent how things could actually be. Adam (the movie) isn't trite, insipid, or overly-sentimental, it's just a honest look at what a relationship between a pretty cool chick and a "different", but still likeable, man might really be like.
Adam, a lonely man with Asperger's Syndrome, develops a relationship with his upstairs neighbor, Beth.
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 Asperger's is handled sensitively, but not without humour, and the ending avoids the temptation to be trite. A real accomplishment then for the American Max Mayer who both wrote and directed and whose previous writing and directing has been almost entirely for the theatre.
I really felt that the first half hour was the strongest in the film. Its not only charming and light, but also incredibly sad and emotional. The tragic part of this is that the rest of the film goes down hill then. While Adam is never downright unenjoyable to watch, there are quiet a few parts that drag. I think it would have been much better overall had it focused more on Adam and less on Beth and her family. Still, its a good movie. Its just that it could, and should, have been so much better.
Nate's Grade: B
I absolutely loved this movie. This movie and many, many others is why Indie movies are my favorite. Great Story. Great performances. Especially from Hugh Dancy. In this movie he plays a character named Adam who has Asperger's Disease. He plays this character brilliantly. I am now a fan of Rose Byrne. I thought she was a natural. Liked her a lot. Rose plays Adam's neighbor who just moved into the building. Soon a friendly hello, turns into a friendship, and soon after a romantic relationship. But this is not your typical romance comedy. It is much more then that. The relationship between the two is very real and also very sweet. This movie opened my eye's to a disease that I have never heard of before, and taught me a little about it. This movie doesn't center on a romantic level of a romance movie, it's more of a relationship type movie. Just not on a romantic level, but with parents, friendships, and acquaintances. It shows the struggles Adam has to over come to lead a somewhat normal life. A touching film that I hope everyone gets a chance to see.
It may sound somewhat contrived; and to a certain degree it is. But what ensues is a heartwarming story of love told from the perspective of a couple that really has nothing going for it from the beginning. The chances of its survival are slim to none. With a father who is over-bearing in his opinion of Adam (Hugh Dancy), Beth (Rose Byrne) must learn to cope with outside forces that attempt to interfere with her looking past her own prejudices and preconceived notions about Adam in order to ultimately love him.
What is the hardest for these characters, however, is the lack of emotional involvement that Adam himself seems to display. Of course, there is really no way for Adam to know what others are feeling for him unless they tell him. But Adam himself--despite his inherent bluntness and straightforwardness, lacks the ability to be completely honest himself.
There are themes of love and loss woven throughout the entire film that will strike a chord with many people who have dealt with a challenging relationship. It will also resound with those who have ever felt for someone in need and tried to help them in order to discover something new about the world.
Whether you wind up learning about the way the big bang works or the rate at which the universe is expanding isn't what matters. What's important is that you learn that two beings who seem inexplicably incompatible can sometimes converge--nay--collide and create a spark so fervent that it will resonate throughout the remainder of their lives. Sometimes a little bit of love is all that's needed to halt the velocity of the ever-expanding universe and bring it back together.
Any movie that starts off by referencing "The Little Prince" is already on my bad side. Luckily, "Adam" recovers nicely from that misstep. While Adam has Asperger's Syndrome, this is no mere disease of the week weepie. In fact, by sensitively handling its lead characters, the movie actually has quite a lot to say on the give and take dynamic of relationships, as Adam and Beth have much to show each other about the wider world.(By the way, those raccoons have to be the most normal thing in Central Park at that hour of the night.) Despite their obvious differences, they also have much in common, both being on their own for the first time in New York City to follow their dreams.
The film is certainly, in quite a few ways, offbeat as a romantic dramedy, yet any film can only push so far for so long before it collapses back into tropes as firlmy established as the ones within something as hardly dynamic as the genre to which films of this type belong, let alone independent film efforts, which are known to not exactly have enough experience behind them to transcend something as hard-to-avoid as a glaring convention or two. Well, sure enough, while the film isn't as conventional as much of its marketing makes it appear, or even all that terribly conventional when you get down to it, it leaves only so many of the beats of its genre before it collapses into conventions, and just enough for a bit of predictability to set in and restrain your full investment a bit. What further restrains your investment is the faulty exposition of the film, which kicks off offering only so much immediate development, then proceeding to do too workmanlike of a job with progressive exposition, in that the film doesn't quite flesh its characters out quite as considerably as it should, to where you not only get to know these characters, but can really bond to them and feel sharper senses of conflict and depth. There's enough flesh-out behind these characters to where you get to reasonably know them and feel a fair degree of investment, yet neither the characters nor story, or by extension, the film itself, really bounce out too much or bite too firmly, and therein lays the fatal flaw, not just within Max Mayer's screenplay, but within Mayer's storytelling, which suffers a flaw found within a lot of independent first film efforts: not enough assurance. There's a kind of almost amateur awkwardness and unassurance looming in the air throughout this film, as Max Mayer, as director, doesn't plant a firm enough bite into crafting a terribly compelling atmosphere, which both creates a kind of emotional distance and further emphasizes the aforementioned moments of conventionalism, faulty story structure, as well as a certain degree of consistent cheesiness that may not be nearly as intense as it usually is with inferior films of this type, yet remains established enough - compelete with ceaseless sweetness and even the occasional piece of sentimentality - to further slow down the momentum of the film. Now, it's not like the film feels uninspired, as a certain degree of inspiration is palpable, though not quite enough so for the film to feel lively in its direction, as Max Mayer keeps atmosphere distant, and further hurts your development by establishing a bit of consistent cheesiness and by turning out a script tainted by some conventions, faulty structuring and altogether not enough intrigue, thus making for a film that's not dull, or even all that terribly underwhelming, just kind of bland. Still, with all of its shortcomings and failures to really launch, the film remains enjoyable at the end of the day, boasting both the traditional rom-com-dram and indie film charm and, of course, good looks.
Whether it be because of Seamus Tierney or the fact that this film is filled to the rim with pretty people, the film is attractive, having a certain soft depth to its lighting that creates a certain degree of livliness in the film's looks, yet still plenty of restraint that may intensify the film's lack of bite, though still looks attractively sober. The film's handsome cinematography attracst your attention, while what all but secures it are the things that Max Mayer does get right, or at least as screenwriter, for although the story all too often collapses into a couple of romantic dramedy conventions, more often than not, it's reasonably offbeat, with Mayer gracing this film with a kind of consistent realism and restraint that too many films of this type fail to pull off, - if they even try - and makes it all the better with clever dialogue and very quirky, down-to-earth humor, as well as likable characters, for although the film's characterization isn't quite fleshed out or layered enough for the story, let alone the characters, to truly compel, you get to know these characters well enough to see them as reasonably colorful in a relatively relatable, down-to-earth fashion. This connection with what characterization there is goes strengthened by the performers, almost all of whom lack the material to impress all that much, yet still have their own individual charisma, with leading man Hugh Dancy being not only charisma, but actually blessed with both the material and, of course, acting gift to do what the other colorful members of this cast fail to do and be genuinely impressive. Now, while level of severity varies, Asperger's syndrome stands relatively low on the autism scale, so don't go in expecting something even mildly close to Arnie Grape, largely because no austism performance is likely to come even mildly close to that of Leonardo DiCaprio in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", but do expect the main Adam Raki character to be a prime example of a mean case of AS, and for Hugh Dancy to nail the portrayal of such a flawed yet brilliant man with elegance, conveying both Raki's intellectual advancement and social impediment through an authentic and consistent portrayal of the confusion, ambition, awkwardness and overall eccentricity that defines the still quite serious condition of Raki and real life people like him, until by the time we reach the occasional yet worthwhile sequence in which Raki collapses into a particularly serious episode or situation and Dancy delivers on striking emotional range and authenticity, genuinely golden moments are formed and particularly define Dancy's performance as a transformative one, which isn't to say that Dancy becomes lost in his role only during those golden moments of emotion. Still, as impressive as Dancy's portrayal is, his performance goes both restrained and ameliorated by Dancy's still keeping Raki down to earth enough to not only complement the authenticity of his performance, but also keep his sharp charisma pronounced enough for you to feel a certain degree of relatability within the Adam Raki character, as well as the delightful chemistry between Dancy and the button-cute Rose Byrne that intensifies the film's charm, of which, there is plenty. The atmosphere is dry and distant, as there's little bite to the film, and hardly any resonance to begin with, yet in all honesty, there is a certain considerable charm to the film's simplicity, as well as to the film's more intentional charm supplements. The film is smart, colorful and quirky, with not enough inspiration to really deliver, but enough inspiration to charm thoroughly, and while you won't walk away fully rewarded, or even all that terribly satisfied, - except maybe with Dancy's, as put best by the consensus, "elegant" performance - you'd be hard pressed to not have a genuinely enjoyable time watching this delightful filler piece.
Overall, as offbeat as the film generally is, it collapses into enough conventions to stand as predictable, while not falling deeply enough into exposition or depth to create a whole lot of compellingness, which goes further restrained by the moderate cheesinss, as well as the simple fact that Max Mayer, as director, just doesn't feel all that assured, creating a kind of consistent distancting awkwardness that leaves the film all but bloodless, a bit bland and ultimately rather underwhelming, yet still not terribly so, as the film catches your attention with Seamus Tierney's handsome photography, Max Mayer's flawed yet, as I said, generally offbeat, as well as clever screenplay, and by a myriad of underdeveloped yet colorful characters, brought to life by the across-the-board charismatic, from which Hugh Dancy stands out with daring authenticity and, at times, even emotional range in his performance, yet not at the expense of the crackling charisma and crucial chemistry with the charming Rose Byrne that intensifies the ceaseless charm that helps in making Max Mayer's "Adam" an, albeit near-toothless, yet still consistently enjoyable realist portrait on the relationship between two stangers, one of whom is stranger than the other (I actually really dig this film's sappy snappy tagline).
2.5/5 - Fair