If you were introduced to this film’s title character at a social event, you’d probably think ‘what a strange and dull young man’. Any attempts to use wit or sarcasm in his presence would fall embarrassingly flat, and it’s also quite possible that you’d become frustrated with him for glazing over while you have your say.
I’ve not painted an attractive picture have I?
But, in this movie, when New Yorker Beth (Rose Byrne) movies into her new Manhattan flat and meets this character – her neighbour Adam – she is immediately attracted and sets out to get to know him better.
She doesn’t talk to him much at this point though, and on first glance, Adam (Hugh Dancy) has a lot to offer. He’s physically good looking, he’s certainly hyper intelligent, and he has a large apartment.
However, it doesn’t take long for Beth to experience Adam’s awkward side. She becomes aware of it while struggling with a load of shopping on their front steps. He talks to her, but doesn’t offer to help. How rude!
But it takes a few further snubs to make her react, and that’s the point when Adam reveals that he has Asperger’s syndrome.
Often described as a mild form of autism, Asperger’s syndrome causes its sufferers to experience difficulties in social situations, and those afflicted also tend to be creatures of habit – often adopting repetitive patterns of behaviour.
To learn that the person you fancy has this restrictive condition must be a bit of a turn-off, but in this movie, it arouses Beth’s curiosity, and ignites her nurturing instincts. But is she fooling herself?
To embark on a union with an Asperger’s syndrome sufferer you really would have to put little value on emotional intimacy, and most humans positively crave human contact. However, some people make such sacrifices for love, especially if the one they fall for offers something else they crave. That’s where this film’s subplot involving Beth’s parents comes in. It transpires that her father’s not that honest, and I guess when your dad’s a liar, a boyfriend who’s honest to the point of cruelty is appealing.
So, what sort of movie is Adam?
With a strapline that reads ‘a story about two strangers, one a little stranger than the other…’, the movie is marketed as a light comedy. But fortunately it doesn’t exploit this complex condition for laughs. In fact, it avoids simplifying the sensitive subject matter, and actually offers a fascinating insight into the way Asperger’s sufferers view the world.
Thanks to the strong leads I came away pondering the inevitable complexities of an Adam and Beth union. The film doesn’t shy away from highlighting the difficulties faced by the pair, but it presents enough tender moments to make you care about their future prospects.
In fact, its hero may be incapable of loving, but that doesn’t stop this film from working as a love story.
Adam is currently available on demand on Sky Box Office and FilmFlex