Adam (2009).

D/W: Max Mayer. DP: Seamus Tierney. Starring: Hugh Dancy/Rose Byrne/Peter Gallagher/Amy Irving/Frankie Faison/John Rothman.

Writer and director, Mayer’s, newest piece proves to be bigger in purpose than both its budget and actors. Such that despite it being a film whose central character has a disorder, Adam is more a film about a young man finding his way who happens to have Asperger’s syndrome, rather than a film about having a disorder.

Asperger’s syndrome, in basic terms, is a high functioning type of autism that oftentimes despite brilliance, makes people (on a certain spectrum) have difficulty with social interaction, empathy, and clumsiness. Yet there is not any clumsiness in this filmmaking. Although it may not be necessary to see this story on a large screen, Tierney gives Adam fresh rhythm and perspective on familiar New York City.

Dancy finally shines as Adam, a role that allows him to explore quietness and detail in his acting, something not seen before. Mostly relegated to fluff roles and the occasional British historical piece, Dancy can be seen on stage in both London and New York City, but has never shouldered a film project on his own. He is refreshing throughout the film, especially due to his restrained chemistry with Byrne’s Beth.

Byrne, an Australian actor who, for most, has been flying under the radar until her recent role in the television series Damages. But, once again, holds her own as a young woman figuring out her life just as much as Dancy’s Adam. Their chemistry, although not warm, has a certain sweetness that is essential to the story. And Gallagher’s turn as her slick and sleazy daddy rounds out the narrative well.

One might think, mostly from previews, that Adam is simply a love story, and a tender one at that. But in fact Adam delves more into personal journeys than anything. And not simply that young people are always trying to figure themselves out, learn who they are, but also the role parents and friends have in one’s very perception of how to go about discovering oneself. But in the end it is the path, which we forge ourselves, that creates our life. So no matter what you take away from Adam, at least remember that no matter where we belong our stories matters.

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