Like every year, 2009 was filled with overlooked films with strong performances and a very original, stable story that would’ve provided a unique, warm feeling with audiences. However, due to limited releases, a lot of these films are not seen by a wide audience and people are forced to wait until DVD to catch these smaller films. Adam certainly counts as one of these overlooked films.
Adam is a film that follows a man with Asperger’s Syndrome, played by Hugh Dancy, as he grieves and slowly recovers after his father’s death. As he learns how to live life independently, he meets a new neighbor, Beth, played by Rose Byrne, who has just moved into the same apartment complex. From the first moment the two meet, they instantly connect. Everytime they run into each other, they talk, and after their conversations, they instantly try to arrange get togethers for future dates. As the friendship grows, Beth begins to fall for Adam, however, she soon finds out about his mentality and his syndrome. The two obviously see this as a road bump but they are both determined to try and make this relationship work. This further explains the trials and tribulations of a relationship and how opposites really do attract to one another.
The film really excels with the main performance. Hugh Dancy is able to take the character Adam that could have been played very “sweetly” and he is able to go against the grain and not fall into that cliche. Dancy adds very subtle, unique mannerisms as well as speech patterns so he is able to dive into the character and, we, the audience actually believe in this character with Asperger’s Syndrome. Rose Byrne does a great job as well. The character calls for Beth to be very accepting but she isn’t afraid to speak up when Adam starts to ask intruding questions about her family or her past. Byrne does a stellar job balancing these two emotions throughout the film. The supporting cast also does a great job creating very convincing and heartfelt performances; namely the roles played by Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving as Beth’s parents.
Additionally, the script is very well written. Again, the subject matter could’ve been written very “sweetly” but Max Mayer, who also directed the film, isn’t afraid to touch upon subjects such as sex and other personal needs. Both Adam and Beth care for each other but they also have needs that need to be met and the script does a very good job grasping these situations. While on the topic of Mayer, even though he has very light experience in the directing field, he is able to take what he learned on sets of tv shows such as Alias and The West Wing, and he directs this film wonderfully. Like the script, Mayer has the ability to balance comedy and drama in a very impressive way. For example, in a montage where Adam realizes how intimidated he is when it comes to job interviews, instead of injecting more fear into the situation, Mayer and his script are able to add compassion and empathy and we follow Beth as she helps Adam practice for his first independent job interview. He is able to bring out very honest emotions out of his cast which add to the emotional impact the script has established and he is able to bring out his gorgeous visions through captivating cinematography; the lighting during the night scenes is really neat.
Adam could’ve been a movie that falls in traps riddled with cliches and the outcome would’ve been very “middle of the road” and wouldn’t have stuck in my head as strongly. However, due to smart, down to earth direction and genuine performances by all of its players, Adam is something more, that should be seen by more than just a handful of moviegoers.