Adam (2009) Movie Review
Adam Raki Hugh Dancy
Beth Buchwald Rose Byrne
Marty Buchwald Peter Gallagher
Rebeccah Buchwald Amy Irving
Harlan Frankie Faison
Rated PG-13 for thematic material, sexual content and language
Beth, an elementary school teacher and hopeful writer, finds herself drawn to her handsome neighbor. Learning he has Asperger's Syndrome (a form of Autism) doesn't stop her from getting to know him. His kindness and honesty are refreshing as she heals from the unfaithful behavior of her last boyfriend. In turn, she helps him navigate social and career situations without making him feel like a project.
Beth is a new tenant, living upstairs from Adam. Adam works in electronics, producing items for use in toys. His attention to detail causes problems at work as his boss reminds him he doesn't need 5 items worth $1000 each. Eventually, his inability to move on will cost him his job.
Beth has a very close relationship with her dad Marty, played by Peter Gallagher, and that relationship will undergo its own stresses. Marty's been indicted for something related to his accounting profession, but assures Beth it's not a big deal. Yet, his trial testimony will expose a secret that stuns Beth.
Helping Adam navigate the real world after his dad's death is Harlan, a friend of Adam's dad since their military days. When the estate attorney suggests that Adam sells his apartment and move out of NYC, a meltdown follows and only Harlan is able to calm Adam down. Their friendship is based on honesty, and Harlan doesn't hold back when Adam needs solid advice in his relationship with Beth.
A situation arises where Adam has to locate Beth quickly, so he thumbs through her datebook. He comes upon the day he met Beth's parents. What he believed was a chance happening was actually arranged by Beth and her dad. He becomes furious, feeling intense betrayal at being lied to. He lashes out and tells Beth he hates her.
Harlan tells Adam to talk to Beth again. Everyone lies, but some liars are worth loving, he tells Adam, and shares his own story of love lost over a lie. Adam calls Harlan on the fact that it isn't too late for Harlan to talk to “her” again, either.
My favorite line in the movie is when Beth brings Adam some chocolates and he says, “I'm not Forrest Gump, you know.”
What works in this movie is the depth of the characters. No one is all good or all bad. Each is flawed in ways that both endear and offend. People lose their temper, say things they don't mean, and give in to temptation and selfishness. Family is supposed to have loyalties beyond those flaws, and these characters have them.
Max Mayer wrote and directed this film. Looking back at his limited work in writing and directing, I see this as a breakthrough piece for him. He can be very proud of the work he's done here. The romance and personal development for Beth and Adam aren't contrived or forced, but unfold in a realistic flow of events.
"Adam" is a meaningful film but I didn't realize it until I'd finished watching it.
I paid for the video rental service that provided this DVD. I was not compensated for my review.
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