Release Date: August 7th, 2009
Rated PG-13 for thematic material, sexual content and language
Running time: 99 minutes
Max Mayer (dir.)
Max Mayer (writer)
Christopher Lennertz (music)
Hugh Dancy as Adam Raki
Rose Byrne as Beth Buchwald
Peter Gallagher as Marty Buchwald
Amy Irving as Rebecca Buchwald
Frankie Faison as Harlan
Adam (Hugh Dancy) Eats His Nightly "Mac & Cheese" By Himself in Adam
- A Fox Searchlight Pictures Release
Our reviews below:
Adam Review By John C.
*** (out of 4)
There is something hauntingly beautiful about the opening scene of Adam. As he stands watching his father be buried, some people have described the look on his face as “cold”. I saw a man overcome with emotion, yet unable to cry, not knowing if it would be the appropriate social response. The newest movie being distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures does have moments of greatness, but on a whole isn’t great, rather just really good.
Adam is the story of a man with Asperger’s syndrome. When someone new moves into his apartment building, Beth (Rose Byrne), the two people start to get to know each other. They form a relationship that is at one time romantic and sexual, but at practically the same time she has to act like his support person.
The biggest problem with the movie lies not in the main storyline, but in a needless sub-plot. I didn’t find that the storyline with Beth’s father worked, it just served as a distraction. He’s going through trial for some sort of business fraud. So we get a lot of screen time devoted to scenes in court. I wish there was more time devoted to Adam’s relationship with his father’s old friend Harlan (Frankie Faison). At one point, Adam is going for a job interview, which we don’t get to see because we are watching her father’s court case. After all, this is a movie called Adam, not Beth’s Father.
Another more minor problem with the film is that the character of Adam has Asperger’s taken to the extreme. He takes almost every little thing literally, and has practically no theory of mind. After ten years at the same job, it’s likely that he would have some learned theory of mind. Hugh Dancy’s lead performance is incredibly believable and realistic, but the character isn’t always written in the most believable and realistic way. Dancy embodies the character perfectly, right down to little twitches and tics.
I also found that the movie doesn’t really explain what Asperger’s syndrome is, it more just shoves the fact that the character has it down our throats for about ten minutes, and than just kind of leaves it there as a plot point.
The biggest thing the movie needed was to show the diversity of people with Asperger’s. The way they could have done this is by having Adam go to a social group. Yes, space is a very common special interest, but it’s not the interest of every person with Asperger’s. It’s just as common a special interest as dinosaurs or movies. They should have shown other functioning young adults with Asperger’s, not make it seem almost like Adam is the only guy in New York that has it. But, this isn’t so much a problem with the movie as much as it is a problem with there not being enough public awareness. I almost wish the film had come with a disclaimer.
At one point Adam tells Beth that “He’s Not Forrest Gump”. I found that the first sexual scene in the film almost seemed like a blatant rip-off of a scene in Robert Zemckis’ 1994 Oscar winning masterpiece.
I liked the characters in Adam a lot. But the movie as a whole isn’t as good as it could have been, nor quite as good as I hoped it would be. The performances by Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne are both excellent, Dancy’s performance in particular, but the movie never elevates to the level it could have reached, because it keeps getting dragged down by that pointless sub-plot.
I do highly recommend you see the film, but after viewing it is important you take the time to read about Asperger’s syndrome. If the film makes people aware than that is a very good thing. If people see the movie, then figure they know all they need to know, then that is not a good thing at all.
Adam Review By Erin V.
***1/4 (out of 4)
Adam is the story of a man called Adam, who after the death of his father is now living alone in the apartment that they shared. A new woman moves into the building - Beth. He first meets her outside as she is bringing her groceries up the steps. He tells her about space and suggests that maybe they could look at the stars sometime together. Astronomy is Adam’s special interest, and he is excited to share it with his new neighbour. The plot is fairly straightforward, and not all that unique, except for the fact that the main character Adam, has Asperger’s Syndrome. (I am including a short description at the bottom of my review.) Because of his difficulties with social cues he has kind of kept to himself, and is kind of nervous at first around Beth. Gradually though, he comes to really enjoy and want to spend more time with her - and she with him. She helps to support him in the confusing social world, while he introduces her to the natural beauty around us all. A side story which could have been mentioned but not given as much screen time, is with Beth’s father’s ongoing court case.
I found it a slight challenge to rate this movie. On one hand, I am glad to finally see a movie that portrays Asperger’s Syndrome more accurately than some recent attempts, but I also must look at it’s merits as a film. It does have it’s flaws, definitely. In particular, it’s the court case that was kind of distracting. At one point, we see a courtroom scene in place of Adam’s job interview which he has been preparing for. If so much time was spent on the preparation, it feels quite disappointing to see something else completely unrelated instead. Also, I found a few moments when Hugh Dancy (possibly due the script) kind of slipped out of character for a couple of seconds. There were times when it didn’t seem natural for either an Aspie, nor an NT.
But, negatives aside, this film does have many positives. For the most part, this movie, as I said, is quite accurate. Hugh Dancy does a very good job in the role. He is - for the majority of the time - believable as a man with Asperger’s Syndrome. Rose Byrne also is very good in her role as Beth. Adam is shown as a very smart, and mostly positive, character. Like any “neurotypical”, he does have his flaws/obstacles, but he is able to confront them, and ultimately succeed in many ways. I also found the score by composer Christopher Lennertz to be very well done and fitting for the film. You can read an interview with him here.
I would definitely recommend checking out Adam. It is an interesting film.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s Syndrome is classed as a form of high-functioning autism. People with Asperger’s, (affectionately refered to within the Aspergers community as “Aspie’s”), often have trouble with reading non-verbal social cues, such as reading complex facial expressions and maintaining eye contact. Sometimes vocal inflections can be misinterpreted as well. Those with Asperger’s also struggle with sensory issues, such as everyday sounds - e.g. traffic noise - sending them into sensory overload. Contrary to what used to be believed, those with Asperger’s do not lack empathy, but often retreat from extreme emotional situations because their feelings come so strongly that they are overwhelmed. Asperger’s Syndrome is not just a list of things people struggle with though. Most people with Asperger’s are very smart, competent individuals. Many have talents in either technical or artistic fields, or both. Asperger’s - just like anything else - has it’s share of gifts as well.
It is important to remember - every person with Asperger’s is different, just as every person with blue eyes, or in a wheelchair is for example. One movie, or one description is not a snapshot of every individual out there with Asperger’s Syndrome. Far from it. Asperger's doesn't define the individual - individuals define their Asperger's.
Adam Review By Nicole
*** (out of 4)
Adam is a sweet and heartfelt story about a unique relationship. The title character, Adam, (Hugh Dancy), is a lonely bachelor, who is grieving the recent death of his father, (his mother died when he was 8). The unique thing about Adam is that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. Adam doesn’t really have any friends, except for a kind, patient man named Harlen, who was a friend of Adam’s father. This is all about to change when a pretty young woman, Beth, (Rose Byrne) moves into Adam’s apartment building. The two meet, and slowly begin to fall in love. Some of the scenes between Beth and Adam are some of the most touching scenes in the movie. Beth, like Adam, is also experiencing the loss of her father, through a prison term for a fraudulent crime. This, while helping give more perspective to Beth’s character, was distracting from the story about Adam.
What really makes this movie work is the excellent performances by Rose Byrne, and in particular, Hugh Dancy. Adam is sweet and charming, without being too childlike. Hugh Dancy is perfectly cast as Adam, as an innocent but mature and highly intelligent young man.
The script is somewhat stereotyped, which is to be expected in a movie. For example, no aspie’ would ever make comments to anyone like what Adam says to Beth in the movie trailer. Most aspies, by the time they are in their twenties, have had enough experience to pass in most social situations. However, Hugh Dancy’s delivery of the line is believable enough to make Adam’s character work. And the simple score by Christopher Lennertz fits this low key film, and Adam’s character perfectly.
Having personal, first hand knowledge of Asperger’s syndrome makes this movie all the more moving. Although this movie has been advertised as a romantic comedy, it is more of a drama. We see Adam’s struggles, as well as successes. The final scene of the film offers hope for Adam, and other adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. Go see this film. Whether you know Asperger’s Syndrome or not, this film is a touching story that will stay with you long after.
‘A note about Asperger’s Syndrome, and politically correct language.
Many people with developmental delays such as Asperger’s are moving away from pathological language to describe members of their own community. People with Asperger’s claim they do not “suffer” from Asperger’s, rather they have it, as a natural part of who they are. “Aspie” is a name that people in the Asperger’s community use to describe themselves. “Neurotypical”, or “NT”, is the name that Aspies use to describe the general (non-Aspie) population.
Being an Aspie can be likened to moving to a foreign country. You have to learn a new language, new social rules, new laws, and perhaps even get used to a different climate. The first few years will be a struggle, but over time, you will fit into the new country, while still maintaining your cultural identity. The transition will be even easier if you have support from successful immigrants from you country of origin to help bridge the gap from the old country into the new. Aspies too, do best when they receive support from both the Aspie and neurotypical communities.
To learn more about the Asperger’s community follow these links.’
Adam Review By Maureen
*** (out of 4)
Adam is a sweet and tender movie about a young man who experiences love and loss. The young man, Adam, also has Aspergers Syndrome.
It’s never easy for a film to accurately portray a character with any disorder or syndrome without resorting to clichés or caricatures. Fortunately this movie managed to accurately portray the essence of Aspergers Syndrome in the short time it had to develop the character of Adam. Since no two individuals with Aspergers present the same way in their challenges and behaviours, Adam had to be a composite of many individuals.
The credit has to go to Hugh Daney for making Adam a truly believable and likeable character. Having recently seen Hugh Daney in ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic” I found it hard to believe I was seeing the same man in Adam.
I really liked and believed the growing friendship and love between Adam and his neighbour, Beth (played wonderfully by Rose Byrne). I laughed and cried with Adam and Beth as they both struggled to understand and accept one another. It was Adam who touched me the most. I wish there had been more scenes showing Adam’s growth as a person and more scenes with his friend Harlen (Frankie Faison).
What took me out of the movie was the whole sub-plot of Beth’s father’s court case. I understand that introducing Beth’s family was important to establishing where Beth was emotionally. However, when Adam was going for his job interview, I wanted to watch the interview rather than having the scene cut to the courtroom. While the outcome of the courtcase is important to the story too much time was spent on these scenes. They were a distraction from the main story.
Overall Adam is a really nice movie. The story is believable and the ending fitting. The acting is excellent all around particularly Hugh Dancy’s Adam. The emotional ups and downs in the story and Adam’s character are wonderfully matched with Christopher Lennertz’ simple, paired down score of mainly piano and guitar.
Adam may not be a perfect movie, but neither is Adam the man. Both however felt real and had a heart, and both touched mine.
Adam is worth seeing if you like a good love story, know someone with Aspergers or are interested in learning more about Aspergers. If Adam is your first introduction to Aspergers syndrome check online to learn more about Aspergers and high-functioning Autism. There are many ways to support adults on the Autism spectrum reach their full potential in this world, just like Adam. Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome is the first step. Seeing “Adam’ is a good place to start.
Adam Review By Tony
*** (out of 4)
Adam (Hugh Dancy) lives alone in a New York flat after the recent death of his father. With his father’s help he has coped with Asperger Syndrome, and his father’s old friend (Frankie Faison) now looks out for him, but the good job where he was happily left alone engineering voice chips for dolls is coming to an end. With his special interest in astronomy Adam has turned his flat into a planetarium and he likes to go out into Central Park at night to observe nature in the sky and also on the ground. When Beth (Rose Byrne) moves into the same building, they gradually develop a relationship despite, but also partly because of, their differences. Beth is a kindergarten teacher from a wealthy family whose father (Peter Gallagher) is on trial for some shady business dealings. He doesn’t think much of Adam, though Beth’s mother (Amy Irving) appreciates how refreshing Beth must find Adam’s sweetness and guileless honesty in light of her previous relationships.
Adam is a romantic film with two very attractive lovers, one of whom just happens to be an “Aspie” coping in a world of “NT’s” (neurotypicals). As such, it should have a much wider appeal than a film like Mozart and the Whale, which deals sensitively with autism but with its predominantly marginal cast may be dismissed by many as a freak show. Both Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne are brilliant, all the more remarkable for the convincing replacement of their respective English and Australian accents with neutral (not New York) American speech. The film is not perfect. After some touching and amusing scenes of Beth coaching Adam in the job interview skills unfortunately lacking in most Aspies, the interview itself is barely seen, while the father’s trial which is intercut with it runs its course. The title character gives the movie most of its charm, and the trial and a classroom discussion of the Emperor’s New Clothes are distractions from it.
Adam (Hugh Dancy) and Beth (Rose Byrne) "Look at Sky" Together
Consensus: Adam is an accurate portrayal of an individual with Asperger’s Syndrome. Overall it is a good film although there is a subplot which is largely unneeded and distracting. *** (Out of 4)
Beth (Rose Byrne) and Adam (Hugh Dancy) Share An Awkward Moment
To read an interview with music composer Christopher Lennertz about the film Adam, click here.