Romance as Child Care


29 July 2009| No Comments on Adam     by Sean Chavel


Aspergerber Syndrome depicted in an OK dramedy. Adam is odd and strained, a love story of a young man with Asperger Syndrome whom for the first time has a romantic opportunity with a beautiful neighbor who is a schoolteacher. This off-beat love story is probably what the studio marketing is going for, while at the same time informing about the disease of Asperberger Syndrome which is to some experts is similar to a high-functioning autistic person but with their own distinct communicative patterns.

Adam is perfectly able to work, earn a paycheck, and retain a few limited friendships. His father has died unexpectedly which leaves him on his own with house payments he can probably not afford. Adam acts childlike in the face of excess noise and high stress situations, he runs his mouth on tangents, he demonstrates obsessive-compulsive routines, and says socially inappropriate things. It must be said that Adam is aware of these self-inadequacies after the fact and often struggles to modify.

When attractive new neighbor Beth arrives, he is uncertain about how to be friendly while she’s forthcoming with him. After a couple of meetings Adam says something in regards to sex. This highly awkward comment prompts Beth to excuse herself quickly. He asks her to wait so he can explain his condition. She understands with sincerity. They get over the awkwardness and begin to spend time together.

Then it gets romantic, but romance is entirely new to Adam. He does make some very thoughtful gestures. Beth’s idea of taking things slow is starting with a spooning session. It goes well. What doesn’t go well is when Beth introduces Adam to her concerned parents. Then, when Adam meets Beth’s friends he intellectually dazzles and then, with overkill, bores them with his knowledge on astrophysics. He does not get social boundaries so well.

Now about the actors. Rose Byrne is an exceptional actress (“Sunshine,” “Knowing”) and one of the most underrated, taking a role of Beth that could have been a doormat drip and creating someone who is believably intelligent, sensitive and patient. She is playing a woman yearning for a relationship built on honesty and reliance since her previous relationship was built on lies and adultery. Hugh Dancy (“Black Hawk Down,” “Ella Enchanted”) as Adam is good too, delivering on the mannerisms of the affliction without taxing on gratuitously. The movie asks us to adopt empathy for Dancy’s Adam. But Byrne’s take on Beth is the more skillful performance exuding the inner wounds of her character that would lead her to have an improbable relationship.

The writing however is so short-sighted. Certainly Adam has extended family (ok, maybe not, but the script should explain) or agencies that would deal with him and recommend terms of psychotherapy. Adam is perhaps a believable character with a condition but too off-center to get me to believe that Beth can withstand him no matter how fine Byrne’s performance happens to be. To avoid screenplay mushiness, Beth is allowed a number of scenes to yell in condemnation at Adam. Yet these are signals of a doomed relationship.

As added subplot, Beth has scenes where she is given new light on her wealthy father (Peter Gallagher, okay acting chops). He is being investigated on alleged corporate malfeasance, and the story deals with Beth’s terrible new worry about what will happen to her parents – the intervening question is Adam mature and capable enough to console her?

The film will work effectively for some audiences looking for a tender and curious love story. As for myself, I had problems with too many scenes. I found myself saying, “Wait a minute, that scene works,” and continuing “That scene compliments the story” and further continuing, “That scene got it right.” But I came out of the movie molding the idea that if a movie is totally successful I should have been lost in immersion of the story instead of judging every scene that passed by. The result is that “Adam” falls down the middle between good and bad, somewhere in the ranks of middling.

99 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Tim” (1979); “Rain Man” (1988); “Regarding Henry” (1991); “As Good as it Gets” (1997).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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