“Adam” is a treasure of a love story about two individuals who become better people through their blossoming relationship with one another. This is not a conscious decision for either person, but rather a self-cleansing mechanism necessary for them to find true love in a world that makes it difficult to achieve this seemingly easily attainable bliss. These people do not change but instinctively adjust, allowing certain characteristics of their personalities contradictory to a relationship to dissipate like morning dew into the warm embrace of the sun. The fact that the film carefully tells such a well-observed convergence of two souls while still informing and inspiring is rare to behold.
Complications arise because of certain characteristics possessed by Adam (Hugh Dancy) and Beth (Rose Byrne) that cannot be alleviated by simple choice because they have either been inflicted by outside factors or afflicted from birth. Adam has Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects mostly males in which autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills with normal to above average intelligence, making it extraordinarily challenging to begin and nourish a flourishing relationship because of the nervous and uncomfortable feelings that accompany social situations. He deeply covets a meaningful connection with his peers to aid in filling the void left by his father’s untimely death, but the anxiety derived from social interaction with unfamiliar individuals often cause awkward gestures with inconsistent eye contact that exude either a reluctant or indifferent attitude toward another person’s interests.
Beth’s problem is considerably more treatable but no less debilitating when attempting to nurture a romantic courtship. She is partially selfish because of the royal treatment she received from her parents and is also innate within her personality makeup. This is a characteristic that is not conducive to the essential act of loving.
“Adam” is a touching and devoutly personal experience that is revolutionary in the manner in which it profoundly and accurately depicts the intricate coping mechanisms people with Asperger’s Syndrome must sort through in order to attain any resemblance of a social life. Since I am also afflicted with this disorder, the realism with which it is illustrated in this film is refreshing and touching, understanding the various obsessions and indicators that exhibit an authentic uniqueness. Asperger’s is not a disorder that can be easily identified, but its influence can be powerfully experienced by those who have a personal anecdote about someone with it. People with Asperger’s often have an arduous time explaining feelings, picking up on social cues, and have repetitions that are comfortable distractions from the chaos of the outside, normal world as beautifully realized in this touching film.
The snow that falls as he walks to Beth’s house coincides with the obstacles that will always accompany him in the search for normalcy. The point is that he is trying to get through the precipitation ultimate goal of reaching her place of physical and emotional residence. This is all anyone can ever hope for an Asperger’s person, not that they change who they are but that they begin to understand what is polite, proper, and socially embraced and acceptable and adjust properly, as Adam showed by taking his first trip outside of the city. The point is admiring and appreciating the trying, even if the accomplishments seem minute to an everyday person. The success of “Adam” resides in the compassionate understanding of the plights of these people that possess the infinite will to socially try but may lack certain tools needed to fully succeed.
The performances are the film’s greatest strength, especially Hugh Dancy, last seen in “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” who gives “Adam” both its humanity and accuracy. It is doubtful that I will witness a better performance this year and he deserves intense contention for an Academy Award. Rose Byrne, tremendous in the independent film “The Dead Girl,” exemplifies she is prepared to be ranked among today’s best young actresses with her complex turn of a woman whose desire for independence is muddled by her father’s insistence on being involve in every aspect of her life. The supporting performances are decent, but the majority of the film’s scenes are elevated and carried by the two leads.
The ending is mature and unconventional, demonstrating a distinct growth for both characters through their shared love in which Beth does something that would have been unthinkable at the start and Adam accepts this gift without first contemplating the eventual positive implications. It is a wonderful examination of how people can become better people through a more advanced understanding of individuals unlike themselves. “Adam” is extensively knowledgeable about the roller coaster that is the human experience and how the obstacles that seem tumultuous or harmful can actually be the missing ingredient in the indefinite search for personal utopia.