Farce not Comedy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'About Adam' is billed as a comedy but it's safer to classify it as a farce. It's set in Dublin and it focuses on a family of three sisters and one brother who all become besotted with Adam, a charming Lothario, who insinuates himself into their lives. Unlike most American films where men end up chasing a beautiful woman, 'About Adam' turns the tables and we're treated to the farcical machinations of women who can no longer control their passions when attracted to that one special 'mysterious' man.
'About Adam' has a Rashomon-like plot where the story is told from the successive points of view of each sibling. We start off from Lucy's point of view (Kate Hudson) who meets Adam at her place of employment (where she works as a waitress/singer). Lucy is looking for a man who will sweep her off her feet. I'm not sure how Adam manages to press all the right buttons of these women, but they all become besotted with him. The initial seduction of Lucy goes on for way too long and after awhile her obsession with him becomes tiresome (the first 30 minutes is the weakest part of the film).
After about half an hour into the film, conflict finally emerges. Soon after meeting Lucy, Adam decides to seduce Lucy's sister, Laura (Frances O'Connor). Laura is more intellectual than Lucy, studying for her PhD in poetry. And of course Adam is familiar with the very obscure poetry Lucy has been studying at school and recites it to her, pressing her buttons. Before you know it, Laura is stripping off HER clothes for him! Adam isn't finished. Brother David finds himself attracted to Adam and fantasizes having a bi-sexual affair with him. He doesn't actually act upon his fantasies but Adam somehow engenders a passionate spark in him and he ends up with a new invigorated love life with his girlfriend.
Finally there's Alice, trapped in a loveless marriage who also has a child. Alice is aware that Adam has been playing around with BOTH of her sisters and when she finally gives in to Adam before his marriage to Lucy, it's on HER terms. She knows it's just a fling, but the brief affair with Adam awakens her long repressed sexual passions.
For those who were 'offended' by this film, they completely miss the purpose of farce. In the words of the noted drama critic Eric Bentley, in farce, one is permitted the outrage without the consequences! Farce allows its audience to experience deep-seated desires vicariously! While the sisters feel there is some deeper meaning in Adam's name (noting that Adam is the name of the progenitor of all men), one should liken him more to the Greek God Pan, famous for his sexual powers and often depicted with an erect phallus.
The world of 'About Adam' features no recriminations. While some feelings are ruffled, none of the characters suffer any permanent psychic damage. Even Laura, probably the most besotted and jealous of the sisters, accepts Adam's marriage to Lucy and we see her holding hands with her school supervisor at the end of the film, now ready for a mature romance in the real world. And although Adam is always lying to each of the women about his background, the lies are white lies--inconsequential; again resulting in no harm (Adam even suggests to Lucy who is having second thoughts about getting married just as they're about to tie the knot, that people don't always have to know each other's secrets; that way, petty jealousies are averted!).
'About Adam' is like a gentle breeze. It's a light-hearted farce not to be taken too seriously (for all of you offended by its alleged 'immorality', I say get a life!). In addition, it's an original take on the desire for passion in our lives. On the other hand, by the end of the film, we realize that the film's tension has dissipated. All that fun 'passion' unleashed in each sibling by the charming rake Adam, has become a bit repetitious and overdone. In other words, we get the point! By the end there are no more surprises! Since 'About Adam' is a bit offbeat and good-natured, I rate it a '3'. But honestly, while 'About Adam' is definitely worth watching, one viewing is enough.