HBO Special - "Adam"

Adam Raki (Hugh Dancy) is a 30 year old man with Asberger's Syndrome. Having recently lost his father and his job, Adam's life is thrown into the kind of flux anyone would struggle with. Things begin to change for Adam, however, when Beth (Rose Byrne), a socialite from a wealthy background, moves into his apartment building. The unlikely pair strike up a friendship that quickly evolves into a romance that neither of them (or Beth's family) are quite prepared for.

My life outside of The Soap Box, my real life if you will, has almost always involved working with kids in some capacity. Often times those kids fell somewhere on the Autism spectrum and I've taken a special interest in those kiddos. Some of them have been insanely difficult and frustrating to manage but many of the most memorable kids I've had ever the chance to work with. I have a special place in my heart for those with Autism, Asperger's, and the like. Very rarely, however, do you see the reality of these afflictions properly displayed in a movie. More often than not an autistic character just leaves me shaking my head.

Thankfully, "Adam" is one of those rare films. Dancy captures the essence of what it means to have high functioning Asperger's in his speech, mannerisms, and behaviors and gives the syndrome a likable if tortured face. Most importantly, Adam never crosses the line between Asperger's and retardation. Perhaps that's an indistinguishable difference for some people but anyone who's ever known an Aspy can tell you what a distinct difference it really is. Adam's affliction is more of a learning disability (really, more of a different way of learning for many) combined with severe social anxiety and an inability to read social cues. Dancy combines these traits wonderfully and his performance truly carries the film.

If the other characters surrounding Adam or the story in which he finds himself were half as well crafted as the title character, this movie would have soared into my "Favorites" list. But while Adam is a near perfect picture of a very complicated sect of the population, the rest of the characters are extremely two dimensional. Byrne and the rest of the cast all do a serviceable job of bringing life to the screen but unfortunately there just isn't a great deal to work with. The story starts out strong but as the film progresses, it begins to falter and finally finds itself trudging through the Land of Generic, resting on the obligatory "disapproving parent" plot line that's been done a million times. It's unfortunate that the surrounding parts of the movie can't match up to Dancy's brilliance but that said, it's still an outstanding look at an often misunderstood disability and more than worth a viewing.

Grade: B+