Critics Consensus

Hugh Dancy's elegant performance as a man with Asperger's Syndrome elevates Adam, an offbeat but touching romantic comedy.



Total Count: 130


Audience Score

User Ratings: 24,578
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Movie Info

In movies, when two twentysomethings serendipitously wind up under the same Manhattan roof, witty repartee usually transpires, then sparks fly, and eventually they fall into bed. But the boy and the girl in Adam are no ordinary characters, and their romance is anything but familiar. Soon after moving in, Beth, a brainy, beautiful writer, encounters Adam, the handsome, but odd, fellow in the downstairs apartment. A pleasant chemistry flows, but his awkwardness is perplexing. Whether avoiding eye contact or standing by blithely while Beth drags a heavy load up steep stairs, Adam seems utterly oblivious to social convention. Then one night, Adam regales Beth with an elaborate outer-space light show. It's a magical moment, tainted slightly by his obsessively thorough astronomical explanation. Their connection is palpable. It becomes clear that Adam's inability to decipher nonverbal signals is beyond his control. And yet Beth doesn't balk. Their mutual interest tentatively takes root.What makes this rare story about obstacles to human intimacy credible is its tremendous psychological wisdom; what makes it transcendent is the intelligence and authenticity radiating from actors Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne. Though their particular challenges are extraordinary, Beth and Adam's tricky relationship elucidates something universal: truly reaching another person means bravely stretching into discomfiting territory-and the shake-up can be liberating.

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Critic Reviews for Adam

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (36)

  • Adam is As Good as It Gets with a dash of Rain Man, movie comfort food, but still charms us through the familiar rhythms of its story.

    Aug 26, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Dancy's eye-opening performance reveals he's a bona-fide acting talent, capable of carrying a movie without ever playing to your affections.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • Sure, it's complicated, but isn't that always true of romance? And doesn't it blow the hinges off the universe -- every single time?

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • There's no getting around the character's plight as an eternal outsider or the natural sympathy it draws. But writer-director Mayer never loses control of this fact, offering a story that's both sweet and tart, unique and familiar.

    Aug 21, 2009 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • It may not be original, but Adam could leave a lump in your throat.

    Aug 19, 2009 | Rating: 3/4
  • For much of its first hour, writer/director Max Mayer's Adam is one of the year's more endearing love stories.

    Aug 14, 2009 | Rating: 2.5/4

Audience Reviews for Adam

  • Sep 07, 2012
    Not exactly what I was expecting from a spin-off sequel to "Basic Instinct 2", but hey, at least it's still better than its predecessor. Oh wait, this isn't about Hugh Dancy's Adam Towers character from "Basic Instinct 2", it's about Hugh Dancy as some dude with Aspergers who's also named Adam; definately don't get those two things confused, because there was clearly no one with Aspergers working on "Basic Instinct 2", seeing as how the people behind it either had to have been anything but logical or had to have some sense of humor. ...Anyone care to guess whether or not I've actually seen "Basic Instinct 2"? Seriously though, if this isn't Hugh Dancy trying to make up for the last film that featured him as a dude named Adam, then it's part two of Rose Byrne's two-part 2009 marathon of working with a slightly crazy people, because 2009 also brought us "Knowing", which starred Nicolas Cage, and well, that's pretty much all that needs to be said if you're wondering just how crazy that film's main character is. Shoot, it sounds like this film is more of a palate cleanser for Byrne, because after working with Nick Cage, she was in serious need of working with someone less nutty, - like someone with Aspergers - even if it was just the character who had Aspergers, something that the main performer, Hugh Dancy, clearly doesn't have in real life, because if he was gonna think things out more logically, then he probably would have concluded, just through the title alone, that "Confessions of a Shopaholic" probably wasn't the most credible romantic-comedy he could have been in. Well, ladies and gentlemen, 2009 was still young by the time that film came out, and Dancy had enough time to do this, a most certainly more credible romantic fluff piece, though one that probably didn't pay quite as well as "Confessions of a Shopaholic" did, which is a shame, because it's nice to have something like this come along and remind us that Dancy is a really good actor, and one who can pick some enjoyable films when he wants to. Still, as enjoyable as this film is, and as good as Hugh Dancy is in it, like the titular Adam Raki character himself, this film is maybe isn't quite as lively as it should be. 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
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 23, 2012
    The love story is sweet, and what ultimately needs to happen in order for Adam to grow socially happens, but the representation of Asperger's Syndrome is pretty formulaic. All the symptoms are hit, and everything is explained a little too much. I wish we could have read the rest of Beth's raccoon book. The movie is almost there, but not quite.
    Alice S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2011
    Pretty sweet movie, though the writing and directing could have been much better.
    Hugo S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 07, 2011
    A pretty decent romantic drama with a nice story and some nice romantic scenes, slow paced but it's got depth. Enjoy
    Ovi G Super Reviewer

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