“Adam” is about a young man with Aspergers Syndrome coping with loss and trying to make sense of the world without his father. Hugh Dancy plays Adam, a young adult who goes through a number of changes during the movie. Cute film, although its not all sunshine and roses.
I saw this movie some time ago and was impressed with the level of honesty and rawness in parts of this film. Dancy does a good job lowering his affect to play Adam, and the dialogue is on par with what I have witnessed with other Aspergian adults. Rose Byrne plays a wonderfully human friend and love interest. I especially enjoyed the trepidation of her first few encounters with Adam as she grew to understand Aspergers and how it affects Adam’s world view.
This film also does a good job exploring social issues with adults on the spectrum, as it shows Adam’s difficulties finding and keeping employment. It also paints a pretty stark picture of what will happen if your adult with autism is unprepared for independence. Luckily Adam has a number of skills that help him survive, and his father’s friend “Harlan” helps Adam after his dad passes. Frankie Faison plays “Harlan” and creates a memorable character out of a supporting role.
The fact that it shows a “meltdown” is critical to me. It showed all of the raw power of an aspergian/autistic sensory meltdown in a very visceral and primal manner without making it so violent that it turns the audience against the protagonist. For those of us who know the meltdown, it is refreshing to see it on the screen. It helped me realize, on an emotional level, that I’m not the only one who has lived through it.
There were a few things I didn’t like about the film. First, the fact that Adam was alone after his dad’s death was painted as a morose and sad time. Many of the autistic folks I’ve met prefer being alone, so to me that was a disconnect on the filmmaker’s part. Although it was sad that dad wasn’t around, I don’t know how much not having other folks around would really matter to some autistic folks. It came off a little preachy and assumptive to me, although it probably wasn’t intended that way. It did have a happy ending, which is nice to see, but largely Hollywood fantasy. With the level of unemployment in the autistic adult community I think that little piece of fantasy costs a lot in public perception. Still, its worth a view. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.