Adam is a cute, yet heartbreaking look at a man suffering from the inability to function “normally” in the world around him, especially when it comes to love.
Following his father’s death, Adam returns to their apartment to continue living his solitary life of ritual and habit. Everyday he eats the same cereal for breakfast, goes to work as an electronics engineer at a toy company, does his chores, eats the same frozen macaroni and cheese frozen dinner, and fills his time engulfed in the mysteries of the universe. Though this consistency may appear as a coping mechanism post funeral, it is actually because Adam has Asperger’s syndrome (don’t worry if you don’t know a lot about it. There is enough exposition in the middle of the film to fill you in). Soon after, Beth moves into the same building as Adam, and a relationship begins to awkwardly develop. Through this relationship, we are able to witness just how difficult living with this syndrome can be, not just for those suffering from it, but for the few people in their lives as well.
Hugh Dancy is no stranger to being the male lead of a love story in films, working with his looks and charm to win the audience over in these lighter romantic comedies. In Adam, he has to rely more on his acting abilities to portray a man with Asperger’s, and he proves that he is more than a pretty face. Though the extent of Adam’s Asperger’s seems slightly up and down in how it is written into the story and how it affects his ability to function and interact with society (AKA charm Beth), Dancy’s representation of Adam never falters in its believability. Dancy shows Adam’s mind constantly working in every situation, from his passionate rants about space, to the almost painful struggle to understand the intricacies and subtleties of social interactions, to his inability to recognize the pain he inflicts on others.
The exposition explaining Asperger’s in the middle of the film is a little forced, but it is completely necessary for many to reevaluate one’s understanding of the character of Adam, especially in order to erase the idea that Beth is taking advantage of Adam. Though this information dump makes Adam more understandable, Beth serves as the audience’s way into the story. Dancy makes it easy for anyone to fall in love with Adam, but Rose Byrne gives a solid performance as Beth as she tries to understand Adam. Plus, she does a phenomenal job in showing the pain she feels when what she wants from the relationship doesn’t always seem possible. This dynamic creates a stronger film because it is not just about how the world makes Adam feel, but how Adam affects those around him.
The weakest part of this film is the subplot involving Beth’s father (Peter Gallagher). His character provides the voice of concern for his daughter by arguing against the relationship, as well as drawing an interesting comparison to how he views Adam as a child, all the while treating Beth as one as well. And if this had been the extent of his role then it wouldn’t be a problem, but the subplot involving him being put on trial because of some shady doings at work is slightly detrimental to the overall film.
Overall, the love story between Adam and Beth in Adam could have been stronger, but Dancy’s portrayal of Adam makes this movie something that should not be passed up.
Final Grade: B