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ADAM - 2009



It was close to eleven thirty in the night and I was back home from a demanding day at work followed by dinner with a client. More than anything, I was yearning to put my feet up and take it easy, so I switched off my mobile phone and locked away my laptop. While trying to make up my mind whether I wanted to read the collected essays of John Berger or the uncollected works of Henry James that sat proudly on my writing desk it suddenly struck me that I had on DVD a film “Adam” that I was planning to watch but hadn’t got quite down to doing it. As I left the corn to pop in the microwave instructing my house help to fetch it for me when done, I settled before the television and hit the play button on my remote control. As the film moved along, I observed how the believably eccentric still accessible title character Adam, a Manhattan engineer, was quite literally. It was a delight to see his orderly apartment, stocked with multiple macaroni-and-cheese dinners and sober outfits that reflected a mind drawn to symmetry and familiarity and how he is coerced by circumstances albeit going through an emotional setback of losing his father and his job to cope with novel feelings that he seems to feel for his wistful neighbour Beth, played by Rose Byrne. Adam we soon see is an ardent astronomy-lover while Beth’s infatuation lies in teaching children. As the movie moved along, what got me quite by amazement is how Hugh Dancy so remarkably plays the character of a man born with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism. When you watch Dancy emote so realistically you understand that not even Sean Penn had managed to astound the world without making our eyeballs cringe, or for that matter Hanks too who lent his role more mechanical finesse than soul whereas Hugh Dancy adds that rare authenticity to the role where he even light-heartedly tells Rose Byrne in the film that, “I’m not Forrest Gump, you know.”

Regardless of his social insufficiencies and the frustration you see in him when you know that he is unable to figure what someone else is meaning without it being told to him in un-minced words, or when he knows that you are looking for emotional comfort but does not know how to get down to providing it because an expression of display of the feeling is alien to him, you still know you can relate to Adam right from the beginning simply because I think each of us at some point, Asperger’s or not, have felt the same because it somewhere deep down represents our id. Whilst the film keeps you engaged not only by the romance of the two characters you uncover the subplot of Beth’s parents whose disruptive tone imparts most subtly on you a lesson or two entirely dependent on how you view life.

The humour is refined and convincing. The revelation arrives with the fact that we are not introduced to two perfect people who are going to make a perfect life together but we are instead taken on a journey with them that aids them to accept each other’s imperfections, that inadvertently helps them not only correct each other but also grow with a diet of healthy positivism. From the start you know that Adam is not all about the romance but it is more about the evolution of it – as all great moments of life are. All good things said there are some slight awkward moments that creep in on some occasions too. For instance you see Beth leap out of the couch when Adam asks her if she was sexually aroused while they had sat looking at the racoons the previous night in Central Park because he admits that he was aroused when they were sitting together. Although the scene was a bit tricky, the honesty of the way it has been handled surely takes away the initial awkwardness one feels when one watches it for the first time. On the other hand, what I found entirely out of context was the sudden and peculiar fashion in which the police end up hauling Adam when he is innocently watching the kids’ play at school, which you reckon soon, is where Beth teaches.

Adam is not a film entirely predictable; it is more involving than you might expect. Besides, not that I consider the Oscar any important, but since it has achieved such a cult status in the American continent I would like to say to the Oscar coterie that they wake up and recognise the sincerity in people like Hugh Dancy who don’t make Adam seem like a caricature of the syndrome. But on the contrary add soul into their roles by virtue of their talent rather than trying to tailor their performances like their predecessors have done to appease and achieve in coveting the statuette by the clout they enjoy in the hoity-toity circles.

An imperative and significant facet of life that the character Adam prompts you towards in the most delicate demeanour is that as cliché as it sounds, love is something more beautiful and deeper than merely being with one another physically. That it can transform you and make you even more beautiful than you were. There is such a marvellous clarity to the love in the film that it gives them room to grow together, but apart, and yet it always has scope for improvement. It would be wonderful if so many of us were to accept that feeling although we know we feel it but are too afraid to accept it merely due to our own insecurities or better put our inadequacies.

While the director Max Mayer has done an excellent job by keeping the roles well-grounded in reality and yet not losing the drama required to give it a mass appeal, I simply loved the way in which Seamus Tierney (whose work I am most unfamiliar with but loved here) has adoringly got on film the Manhattan locations. And when I see something shot so wonderfully I cannot but help adding that the camerawork clearly reminded me of my dear friend Ravi K Chandran, one of our countries finest DOPs who can literally breathe life into something that is lifeless merely by the merit of his craft. And like in his work you see that it is not in the complexities that he achieves genius, but purely in his simplicity, so does Adam too charm you on the same note.

1 comment:

  1. I am sold on the film with such a brilliant review! FK you myst send it to the director of the movie. He probably may not be able to analyze his own work as well as you have put it in words. I hope the film lives up to this super review. :)

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