I watch a lot of movies; hence the job of reviewing them. And I like books, I like good writing, I like good story construction. And like anyone who's seen a lot of movies or who's read a few books, I know the canned turns in action, the pat set-ups to surprise endings, and most of all, the sickly sweet nausea brought on by cloying romantic sentiment urging itself upon every frame.
If I'm watching a movie like that at home I pick up the remote and turn off the TV, mutter some expletives, and reproach myself for wasting the rental fee on such crap. Sitting in the theatre watching Adam, I swear on my life I was miming pressing the power button on my remote, hand extended to the screen. Think of me what you will.
All that I am going to say about this movie must be taken with the proviso that people around me in the theatre were laughing out loud in parts, in others, looking shiny eyed at the flashing screen, lips trembling. At each of these moments I was surprised, caught off guard at my fellow theatre-goers being taken in by the movie. So maybe I'm the weirdo.
Adam is the feature directorial debut for New York theatre veteran Max Meyer, and rather than being uplifting or light and sweet in the tradition of summer romantic comedy/drama, the characters are so awkward and the writing so self-conscious that it constantly feels as though you are watching the DVD of the making-of the movie Adam. You feel removed, on the set, watching the ins and outs of takes and make-up and celebrity tantrums, which can't help but make you lose sight of the drama, story, and message conveyed.
But that aside, if it were possible to put that aside, the story itself is so cobbled together from the loose and immature sentiments of its writer/director that it is more disconcerting than romantic. Adam begins with Adam, played by Hugh Dancy (Ella Enchanted, The Jane Austen Book Club), losing his father; an event we're made to understand that is pivotal in his life. Why is it pivotal? Because Adam has a form of high-functioning autism called Asperger syndrome making order very important to him, change disorienting. This is the moment in any story called "the complication", the event which gives rise and makes possible everything that follows.
Max Meyer wanted the story to say this: Adam (read Biblical reference: in the beginning, bliss in being unaware of the complications of Good and Evil, innocence) lives with a limitation that while hindering certain of his goals also allows him insight into things others ignore or feel too shackled by social restraint to admit. Therein lies his quality and his ability to refresh and enlighten the lives around him, even teach Beth (Rose Byrne: TV's Damages, Marie Antoinette) about love and life and how to weather the storms of familial crisis.
This is how the story comes off: emotionally stunted, spoiled, rich girl on the rebound, finds a man who is emotionally unstable with whom she can carry on a relationship that operates completely on her own terms; without risk. The conversations between the two "lovers" smack of a mother seducing her son. The emotional climax is brought on by a completely contrived situation that reveals not passion, not depth of feeling, not real connection or intimacy, but irrational (and scary) anger and violence that leaves Dancy's character (that he manages to make completely unbelievable and painful to watch) even more un-tethered and un-relatable.
Wait until the DVD. Please, please, if after these clunky, inelegant words, you still would like to test yourself against this travesty of a movie, wait until you have the hardware at home, its idiocy humming out at you from a screen you have complete control over, so if you love it, the experience is all yours and I can offer apologies for leading you astray. But if, as I expect, you wonder at those who invested the millions to have this tripe produced, you can make the wish I was wishing the entire time I was sitting in the theatre come true, and turn it off.