Film Review: Adam (Spoilers)

Worthy, nice, interesting, well-meaning – you can say all of these things about ‘Adam’, but very little else. As a character study it’s interesting, even engaging, but it wilfully skirts the difficult questions, and leaves the exploration of Adam and his world piecemeal at best. Adam (Hugh Dancy) is a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s high functioning, lives alone (having just lost his father), and has a rewarding job as an electrical engineer for a toy company. Enter new neighbour, teacher Beth (Rose Byrne), who takes a shine to him and forces him out of his restricted world; they fall in love. Happily ever after? Not quite…

The film for the most part is a charming look at their fledgling relationship, the compromises she and he have to make to be present in each other’s worlds. Writer/director Max Mayer parallels this with her seemingly strong relationship with father Peter Gallagher, and tensions arise when Gallagher turns out to be a judgmental fraudster. The apple turns out not to fall far from the tree – despite Byrne’s supportive behaviour, she is all-too-willing to manipulate Adam to her own benefit, yet not to sacrifice anything genuine for him. He though ultimately embraces change, largely as an effect of their relationship. That’s it.

What conflict there is is minimal, there’s very little plot and what there is doesn’t challenge the characters worth a damn. Dancy is fired by his boss, who uses his autism to get away with discriminating against him, and when he goes to Byrne’s school is stopped by the police as a suspected paedophile. Both of these are interesting sub-plots, but they’re quickly discarded. The performances however are charming – Gallagher hogs the screen as ever, and Dancy is quite convincing as a young autistic American, but none of them really grab the attention. Max Mayer gives us a gentle, overly theatrical look at a difficult, challenging subject, leaving more questions than answers, and delivers a nice but unfulfilling film. ‘I’m not Forrest Gump,’ jokes Dancy – he’s not Rain Man either. 6/10

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