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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews


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Adam – Hugh Dancy Is Astounding As Character Afflicted With AS

At first sight, Adam appears to be a normal, healthy and handsome 29 year old single man. But, as they say, you can’t always tell a book by its cover. Although highly intelligent, Adam has Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), a form of autism in which his brain works different than “normal people” and makes it hard for him to communicate his feelings and to socially interact with others.

British actor Hugh Dancy (Ella Enchanted, Confessions of a Shopaholic) putting on an American accent, is totally convincing as Adam, a role that allows the actor to show off his acting chops in this unconventional love story about two very different people who fall in love and help each other grow in a challenging world.

Dancy is the best reason to see this film. He delivers a sensitive, multi faceted performance as the afflicted character who leads an isolated life away from his job as an electronics engineer at a toy company, except for an occasional meeting with his one friend, his dad’s former army buddy Harlan (Frankie Faison) who offers some advice and support.

After his father dies, Adam is thrust into living alone and caring for himself in the spacious Manhattan brownstone apartment he and his dad shared. The story kicks into gear when Adam meets his new neighbor, radiant and beautiful Beth (a solid, compassionate portrayal by Australian actress Rose Byrne, of Knowing and TV’s Damages), an elementary school teacher and aspiring children’s book writer who has moved out of her overly protective, rich parents’ home in upstate New York to become more independent. After some awkward interactions between Adam and Beth, a romance soon blossoms, although Beth first must educate herself about Adam’s mental disorder before she can understand the cause of his peculiar behavior. For example, because he is incapable of lying, he has the habit of spewing unexpected blatant verbal expressions of honesty and is prone to having angry outbursts. He also has an obsession with astronomy and space travel, subjects he can talk about endlessly and is willing to share with anyone that has the patience to listen. Nevertheless, Adam has an undeniable childlike sense of wonder and sweetness that draws Beth to him against the approval of her parents. And when Adam loses his job, Beth is there to help Adam learn the ropes on how to properly act during an interview.

In what could have easily been a distracting subplot involves Beth father, Marty (Peter Gallagher), an accountant indicted on charges of fraud. But it does work to bring up this issue of what a wife/mother (Amy Irving portrays Rebecca, Beth’s emotionally tortured mom) is willing to endure in the name of love and devotion, and questions what defines “normal”, acceptable behavior.

Obviously, this is not your typical Hollywood romantic comedy although there are some comical moments and situations. The lead characters are not portrayed as stereotypes, and theatre director Max Meyer, making his directorial big screen debut, does an impressive job with his capable actors in bringing his bittersweet romance to life without being manipulative or resorting to sappiness.

In a summer filled with lewd, R rated comedies, Adam offers another welcome choice that is not only poignant and sweet, but treats the sensitive subject of Asperger’s Syndrome with respect while also educating audiences about the disorder.

If you want to know if Adam and Beth live happily ever after, I would advise you to see for yourself. Like the movie’s characters and in real life, it isn’t that simple.

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<p><a href="undefined/"><img src="images/stories/Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm.gif" alt="Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm" style="border: #000000 0px;" height="24" width="21" /></a><img src="images/stories/Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm.gif" alt="Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm" height="24" width="21" /><img src="images/stories/Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm.gif" alt="Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm" height="24" width="21" /><span style="color: #ff99cc;"><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva;"><a href="undefined/"></a><img src="images/stories/Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm.gif" alt="Chick-O-Meter-yellow-sm" height="24" width="21" /><img src="images/stories/Chick-O-Meter-grey-sm.gif" alt="Chick-O-Meter-grey-sm" height="24" width="21" /></span></span><strong><span style="font-family: verdana,geneva; color: #ff99cc;"> Judy Thorburn</span></strong></p>
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