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Worth A Look36.36%
Average: 27.27%
Pretty Bad36.36%
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3 reviews, 4 user ratings

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by brianorndorf

"Asperger's is the darndest thing"
2 stars

Iím positive thereís a finer way to showcase the nuances of Aspergerís Syndrome than anything the new film ďAdamĒ manages to come up with. While respectful to the disorder, the picture is nonetheless disinterested in anything that would enliven the experience beyond the severely clichťd or overacted. Itís a gentle romantic dramedy, but misfires at every turn, making for a tedious motion picture that minimizes a fascinating subject.

Beth Buchwald (Rose Byrne) has moved into a New York City apartment building, soon meeting a quiet man named Adam (Hugh Dancy) who piques her curiosity. As the two make tentative romantic moves toward each other, Beth learns of Adamís battle with Aspergerís Syndrome, which keeps him socially distant, yet emotionally blunt. Finding Adam tiring, but utterly sweet, Beth embarks on a relationship with the fragile man, hoping for the strength to deal with his multitude of problems. With her father (Peter Gallagher) facing legal troubles and Adam crumbling after losing his father and job within a short time span, Beth comes to realize that while kind, Adamís mania might be too much for her to deal with.

ďAdamĒ aims to be sweet, treating the sensitive subject of Aspergerís Syndrome with kid gloves so as not to offend anyone gracious enough to spend time with the film. Itís a valid attempt on writer/director Max Mayerís part to convey the psychological toll of the disorder, and how its frenzy and tireless insistence can cause great distress. However, his method of approach is in the guise of a romantic comedy, scripting a relationship story for Beth and Adam as they not only play the game of love, but one of patience.

To watch ďAdamĒ reach out and attempt to engage the audience through overtly expressive characters and personal tragedies is interesting for the first 15 minutes. Inventing a hermetically sealed world of order for Adam, only to be sliced open by Bethís fixation, creates a plausible tension within the script. The mystery doesnít last for long. ďAdamĒ quickly goes from a quirky jaunt to a get-me-outta-here disaster by the second act, where Mayer hunts for a way to bond these characters together, yet has little interest in challenging the story beyond Lifetime Channel dramatic developments. Thereís a wellspring of depth in the Beth character, who pretty much uses Adam to fill her own selfish emotional void -- she invents love to keep huffing the fumes of newfound attraction. Yet Mayer doesnít go within striking distance of the conflict, instead pushing his cast to vibrate wildly for Oscar gold, or keep Byrne glassy-eyed for maximum sympathy.

Adding to the disinterest are Byrne and Dancy, who spend most of the film trying to swallow their natural accents to portray a pair of average Americans. The suppression only causes their acting to grow unwieldy and unnatural, or even downright embarrassing in the case of Dancy and his opportunity to convey the explosive capacity of Aspergerís. It doesnít take long for ďAdamĒ to start reaching out for hugs in a sickly, cloying manner that almost reduces Aspergerís to a nagging inconsideration instead of a three-dimensional affliction with real consequences, not just melodramatic highs and lows to suit an unbearable script.

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originally posted: 08/27/09 22:45:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/22/11 Beverley M Sporck I enjoyed this film and gained insight into a common social disorder in our society. 4 stars
7/11/10 Charles Tatum Sweet romance helped immensely by leads' chemistry 4 stars
4/02/10 ES weak-ending(s) and the gf comes off as a b*tch most of the second half. Coulda been great 2 stars
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  29-Jul-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 02-Feb-2010


  DVD: 02-Feb-2010

Directed by
  Max Mayer

Written by
  Max Mayer

  Hugh Dancy
  Rose Byrne
  Peter Gallagher
  Amy Irving
  Frankie Faison
  Mark Linn-Baker

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