Monday, July 13, 2009

FILM REVIEW: Hugh Dancy's "Adam"

Hugh Dancy (Confessions of a Shopaholic and Evening) plays an astronomy-lover with Asperger's syndrome. He's lived a relatively stable existence until his father dies, which seems to be just the first of many changes. Asperger is said to be a mild form of autism. And if you're unfamiliar with that syndrome too, then just think of it as if an alien came to Earth, unable to figure out how to assimilate, unable to understand emotions and euphemisms, or to fully function in socially festive situations. I like to think it's why Adam loves the solar system so much. At one point, he explains how quickly the Big Bang occurred, and how all of the pieces are still "exploding" through space, causing the system to grow over time. Adam was in need of that one moment in time that would cause him to grow—a moment which was made possible by Rose Byrne's ("Damages" and Knowing) character Beth.

Their relationship was about how love can transform you and make you better than you thought you could be. It's a message that's been used before in romantic dramas, but it's more obvious here because the audience knows there's room for improvement. We're not introduced to two perfect people who are going to make a perfect life together. They go on a journey to accept each other's imperfections, in order to help each other correct them.

Asperger's is a never-ending learning experience, just like love. It isn't as romantic, but it does wear on you. That's why I feel the film was good. You can relate to Adam, despite his social inadequacies, because you know what it feels like to be frustrated when you can't figure out what someone else is thinking, or how awkward and unnerving it feels to go to a party or to meet your girlfriend's friends or parents, or when you don't know when to stop ranting, or even worse, when you don't know what to say to comfort someone. It's like he represents your id. He's the nervous voice in your head that's masked by the years of training you received on how to pretend to be normal.

But the film isn't as heavy as I'm making it seem. There's a definite amount of humor in it. Awkwardness always caters to that, especially with a guy who has to ask if a woman is sexually aroused, because he can never be sure. However, Dancy did a truly impressive job of not making Adam seem like a caricature of the syndrome. And while there is romance—and a suspected desire for a grand love story from the audience—the film is called Adam for a reason. It isn't about the romance, it's about the evolution—as all great scientific legends are.

Release Date: July 29th
Watch the trailer!

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