Most movies are fairly easy to pigeonhole into one category or another; horror, romantic comedy, chick flick, science fiction, etc. Sometimes a movie comes along that is not so easy to label. “Adam”, starring Hugh Dancy (“Confessions of a Shopaholic”) and Rose Byrne (“Damages”), is one of those movies; it's a little bit romance, a little bit comedy, and a little bit drama, but it's not enough of any one of those things to properly give it one of those labels. Romantic Dramady maybe?
“Adam” is the story of Adam Raki, a young man with Asperger's Syndrome who has just had his carefully organized life turned upside down. His father, the man who clearly kept Adam anchored, has just passed away and now Adam has to learn how to live in the world on his own. Not being socially adept or able to cope with high stress situations, Adam has a hard time adapting to all of the new disruptions to his daily routines.
One of the new disruptions in his life is his new neighbor, Beth Buchwald (Byrne). Beth is a teacher and a writer of children's books, and at first she isn't sure what to make of Adam's curious mannerisms, behaviour, and what she perceives as rudeness until he explains his disorder to her (and the audience). The two become friends, then more than friends, and discover that they both have a lot to learn about themselves from each other.
Ultimately it is not really the romance between Adam and Beth that the movie is about; instead it is about Adam learning to live with the changes going on around him. I'm not saying that the romance is not a huge part of the story, just that it is not the film's true focus.
Dancy does a fantastic job portraying Adam, and creates a character that you can believe has Asperger's instead of becoming the over the top parody that a less skilled actor might end up presenting. Byrne plays off of Dancy's Adam well, and the pair of them create a real sense of chemistry between the characters.
Also look for appearances by Frankie Faison (“The Wire”) as a friend of Adam's father who is also the only person Adam can really call a friend of his own, and for Peter Gallagher (The O.C.) as Beth's somewhat jerky father who has been indicted for fudging the books as an accountant. Both actors add a lot to the texture of the film through their interactions with Adam and Beth.
I would not say that Adam is a sad film or a happy film, but it is a hopeful film, and one well worth seeing if you can find a theater near you that is playing it (there's only one in my area). It is a nice change from the shallow romantic comedies Hollywood generally churns out. If you can't see this in a theater then you owe it to yourself to check it out on DVD, as it is a film you should be hearing about again come award season.
Rated PG-13, “Adam” does contain some mature themes and language that may make it inappropriate for younger viewers, but then this is not really a movie that children are likely to be interested in. This is a fun, touching, and quirky film that you will be glad you experienced it. “Adam” is currently in limited release nationwide.
Check out ”Mallville – A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse”, my free ongoing blognovel.