DIRECTED BY: MAX MAYER
STARRING: HUGH DANCY, ROSE BYRNE, FRANKIE FAISON, AMY IRVING AND PETER GALLAGHER.
Adam is not incomprehensible. He’s the contrary, actually, he’s plate-glass and you can always see right through him, know exactly what he’d think if you did something and that’s an innocence that you normally associate with a child, except that he can never believe in your fairy tale. He hits it straight, and there’s no dishonesty at all, because he’s just not capable of it, it’s like he’s impaired in the sixth sense, meaning he can’t lie so as to not hurt you with the truth, and that’s because lying could hurt him more and he’s not in a position to handle deceit, it’s far too complex for him, unlike Astrophysics which comes easy, which in turn could be something you could break your head over. He’s not labyrinthine: He’s more like a straight line to a round world.
Elizabeth Buchwald is the girl Mayer has written into Adam’s life. She looks amazing, (everyone knows Rose Byrne does) she teaches kids at Wildwood and aspires to write children’s novels, and when you start to add two and two, thinking she could have about all the tolerance and care and compassion one needs to cope with Adam, you’re shown the actual picture. She has a father who’s fighting a jail sentence, someone who’s also keen to keep her firm-footed on the ground about Adam, telling her clear that ‘he belongs to another world’. It’s not like she needs it, though, she sees clearly the line drawn between innocence and impertinence and cannot appreciate, at times, that Adam can’t. And that’s the point, that’s how we are, that’s how we can’t laugh when the joke’s on us, Adam or not. It’s not no-nonsense stuff, we’re just not that charitable, and the fact that Beth’s actually one of the nicer kind makes the effect more pronounced. Ironic.
‘Adam’ is a story not wholly of Adam, but includes a bunch of people whom you could term ‘real’, like the employer who fires him, like Harlan, his father’s friend who’s part of the ‘compassion kit’ along with Beth, Beth’s dad Marty Buchwald (played by Peter Gallagher) and her mom Rebecca. The plot doesn’t ‘progress’ as such, because there’s moments of everything, a little this and a little that and a little of ‘that’ in ‘this’, and you’re an outsider all along. Every time you get close to borrowing Adam’s point of view, Beth butts in and you start to see things through her eyes and it’s not a confusing tangle, it’s something that gives you utmost clarity, being way better than just taking someone’s side. No one’s bad, no one’s incurably criminal or insane, everyone’s just ‘individual’ and although there’s a crash of a slump that Marty takes towards the end, it’s not entirely a plummet, it’s just the course of things that life has to offer, and so are his wrongs. There’s no ‘romance’ in the air, although one can easily take Adam’s approaches to be so, except that he does whatever he does because he finds it fascinating, even when he shows Beth his ‘planetarium’, which he does because he has fun doing it and he likes to share his happiness with her, and perhaps one could possibly argue that that’s what love is in the first place, and who knows? Maybe that is ‘love’, maybe everything we see in ‘Adam’ is love in one form or the other, the gestures of Adam washing Beth’s window or Beth buying his a book to get him through the interviews, or even the scene where Adam tells Beth that he loves her, although he says he wants her to move with him because without her he can’t get along with the world, get along with ‘worldliness’ because he doesn’t have any other person who’s a representative of the rest, of people who are not ‘him’. It’s not contradictory: That’s his version of love, maybe that’s everyone’s version of love, everyone’s motive behind ‘love’ and we’re just too scared to say it out.
Every emotion expressed in ‘Adam’ is real, everyone is real and everything that everyone feels is real, everyone including Adam. It’s not a problem with people, it’s more of a problem with the worlds they belong to, for in the case of Adam, it’s a case of a different world altogether: A world where the tiniest of lies could shatter trust, because it’s a world that doesn’t know small from big unless the context is physical, and lies are lies, big or little. It’s obviously tough to cope with that world, let alone relate to it. But all the same, the pros and cons are clearly sketched out, and it’s up to you to like his world or to stay away from it. Beth took the long way and got pretty far. I felt willing to hit the road too. I like ‘Adam’.