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Review: Adam

  • Posted on March 28, 2011 at 8:03 AM

Adam tells the story of an Aspie, named Adam, who must adjust to some major life-changes, including the death of his father, meeting a woman who becomes his girlfriend, and losing his job.  The story is told with an awareness of the neurodiversity movement, which I like.  I also like how this awareness is used to characterize Adam, not as a major plot element in the story.  Self-advocacy and the inherent worth of people with Asperger’s is a subtle power throughout the story, but it’s not “the” story.

I watched this movie with my husband for our “date night.”  In retrospect, it might not have been the best “date” movie, but we were both engaged throughout the movie.  We found the story compelling, though some parts were painful to watch.

Despite the strong influence of the neurodiversity movement, this isn’t an advocacy piece.  There are elements of advocacy inherent in the story, but the movie is about the story not the advocacy—which makes it a stronger work of art, in my opinion.

I am a bit concerned by how stereotyped the main character, Adam, seemed to be.  Max Mayer, the writer and director of Adam, credited “lead actor Hugh Dancy with a lot of the character’s success,” which suggests to me that both Mayer and Dancy are responsible for the stereotype.  Unfortunately, this “universal” depiction of Asperger’s seems a default position when people outside a specific sub-group of the human population try to portray people within a sub-group.  However respectful they try to be there’s a reliance on a recognizable conglomeration of characteristics that, inevitably, come across as a stereotype.  (Not an excuse, just my explanation for a disappointing element in the movie.)

For the most part, the movie was satisfying.  I especially liked Frankie Faison as Harlan, who has his own story that was suggested but not really told.  I wish the ending was a bit more satisfying, but sometimes art must reflect life and life isn’t always satisfying.