Friday, September 18, 2009

Adam (Rhoades)

Autistic “Adam” Finds His Eve

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

No, it’s not “Rainman Falls in Love.” But the kid next door in this sweet little film suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism. Today’s statistics show that 1 child in 150 is likely to be autistic.

However, the chances of a pretty girl like Beth falling for a boy like Adam are closer to 1 in a million. This is the story of that million-to-one romance. “Adam” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

Writer-director Max Mayer says, “Autism spectrum I think has become a much more prominent issue.” Asperger’s causes those affected to struggle with social interaction and they often engage in repetitive behavior.

Our plot: When brainy writer Beth moves into her new apartment, she encounters an odd-duck boy who lives downstairs. She finds his awkward behavior perplexing, but likes his gentle nature.
The title role is played by Hugh Dancy, a young actor you’ve swooned over in “The Jane Austin Book Club.” And thrilled over as Galahad in “King Arthur.”

Beth is played by Rose Bryne, the lovely young star of TV’s “Damages,” an actress capable of holding her own against Glenn Close in that show.

Seems that Hugh Dancy has become something of an expert on Asperger’s syndrome. Portraying Adam led the actor to want to find out more about the condition.

“The script arrived without any covering note or description – all I knew was the title, so I didn’t know what I was reading,” he recalls. “So the first thing I thought was, some way in, I was seeing this character was there and I was really hoping there was going to be a concrete reason for his behavior. What I mean by that is that you’ll see a lot of independent scripts – particularly American scripts – with these kind of young men who are a little weird or a little off somehow and they’re kind of special but they’re going to teach us something. And they’re the ‘holy fool’ character, which I find can be really quite mawkish.”

Instead, he found a character with a very real medical condition. “Starting from a place of total ignorance as I was, naturally the first thing I did was type ‘Asperger’s’ into Google. That keeps you busy for a week.”

Asperger’s manifests itself in many ways, including an inability to look people in the eye when speaking to them. This presented a challenge for the actors. “You feel very odd doing that,” Dancy says. “We only had 22 days to make the movie and it takes quite a while to feel comfortable doing that. All the things you rely on as an actor, with a camera anyway, it tells a lot just by looking at your face, the idea that you’re always going to be essentially distracted in a way, you’re never going to be able to be direct is tough.

“Initially, I didn’t quite know how to do it and Max at one point said, ‘You’re looking a bit like a blind person.’ Because, I guess, you’re looking around without intent. But, eventually I like to think as it made more sense for me, it probably became more easy for Rose than difficult. Because presumably the more genuinely confused she was, the more helpful it would be for her performance.”

Rose Byrne credits a good script. “The script was so well-structured. You have the initial superficial attraction, and then becoming friends, and at one point you think they’re not going to get together… It’s very organic. By the time it happens, it’s very true. I never had a problem believing this could happen, because of the structure of the script.”

“Adam” is at times funny. And there’s an unusual courtship between Beth and Adam at play here. But that doesn’t quite explain it. “This movie isn’t, ultimately a romantic-comedy,” Hugh Dancy insists.

He sees it more as a character study. “The truth is, if you screen this movie in front of a big audience of the general public, you are screening it to people with Asperger’s or at the very least people who live with people who have Asperger’s because it’s that common.”
[from Solares Hill]

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