Monday, January 27, 2014

Adam (2009) [PG-13] ****-

Adam (Hugh Dancy) is a shy electronic engineer who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. He lives alone in a New York City apartment following his father's death, with only Harlan (Frankie Faison), an old friend of his father's, for companionship and guidance. One day Adam meets Beth (Rose Byrne), a writer who had recently moved into an apartment on the floor above his. There's clearly some chemistry between the two, but Beth is mystified by Adam's awkwardness and his lack of social skills. He avoids eye contact with her; he sits awkwardly while she drags a heavy basket of groceries up the steep stairs to her apartment.

Beth doesn't understand how difficult it is for Adam to communicate with others. He perceives their statements literally; he doesn't understand humor, irony or metaphor. He cannot interpret non-verbal cues, and cannot tolerate lying. In many ways he is an emotional child. But Adam is fascinated by Beth; he senses an opportunity to make a real human connection with her, to establish some intimacy with another person. One evening in an attempt to communicate with her, Adam entertains Beth with an elaborate cosmological light show. Another time he takes her to Central Park to observe a family of raccoons. Researching Asperger's Syndrome, Beth understands that Adam's inability to interpret her non-verbal signals is out of his control, and so she doesn't write him off, and a mutual connection begins to develop.

What makes this story about overcoming obstacles to human intimacy so believable and so beautiful is that it rings true. Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne are incredibly authentic in expressing the extraordinary psychological challenges that Adam and Beth must overcome if they are to succeed in developing a meaningful relationship. In addition, their struggle expresses the universal truth that, while connecting with another person often means leaving our comfort zone and entering unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory, the reward for success can be refreshing and liberating. Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne have undeniable romantic chemistry, and the film benefits from the insightful and compelling screenplay and sensitive direction of writer/director Max Meyer, as well as Christopher Lennertz' beautiful score. 

Labels: comedy, drama, romance   
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 56/100 
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=60, viewers=72)

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