The title character in “Adam” can’t carry on a healthy conversation at a cocktail party. He eats the same frozen dinner every night and hasn’t a clue how to read social cues.
Adam’s Asperger syndrome leaves him isolated even in a crowded room.
Yet in the winsome new film Adam manages to spark a courtship with a lovely school teacher (Rose Byrne).
Suffice to say the film, just released on DVD and Blu-ray, isn’t your typical screen romance.
The love story requires a leap of faith made possible by the endearing leads, one achieved despite a clunky subplot stripped straight out of “Say Anything.”
Adam (Hugh Dancy) lives alone in a large New York apartment building following the death of his father. His condition may leave him socially unaware, but his facile brain comes in handy as an electronic toy designer.
His loneliness lifts when he strikes up a friendship with his neighbor, Beth (Byrne). She just escaped a bad relationship and sees something genuine in Adam. Even when she learns about his condition she decides, after some internal debate, to give their relationship a chance.
Meanwhile, Beth’s father (Peter Gallagher) gets enmeshed in a legal scandal, one that could shatter her family’s Norman Rockwell appearance.
“Adam” doesn’t romanticize the main character’s condition. Dancy realistically captures Adam’s frustrations, his sense of bewilderment in social settings and his awkward attempts to woo Beth. It’s a gentle performance, one that rarely calls attention to itself.
The histrionics involving Beth’s father aren”t so subtle. Gallagher isn’t the most instinctual actors around, and it’s clear the father’s plight exists solely to push a few buttons in the Adam/Beth romance.
Byrne gives Beth a healthy balance of skepticism regarding their relationship, but a less beautiful actress would have been more believable given the intensity of Adam’s social miscues.
“Adam” remains faithful to the main character’s condition, leaving audiences with a far more satisfying finale than the typical romantic comedy too eager to concoct happy endings all around.
NOTE: WWTW would love to hear from readers who know people with Asperger Syndrome and who have seen this film. Did you find the film realistic? Is it a fair assessment of this syndrome?
(Photo: Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy consider a romance in “Adam,” a new drama out now on DVD/Fox Home Entertainment)