A love story with Asperger’s syndrome

Ani Khashadoorian

Imagine a world where emotions weren’t easily processed or recognized; would there be world peace or total war? Would human communication advance or become totally decrepit? For those with Asperger’s syndrome, the world is often a struggle between both extremes; “Adam” explores the romantic relationship between elementary school teacher Beth Buchwald (Rose Byrne) and Adam Raki (Hugh Dancy), a man with Asperger’s syndrome.

Written and directed by Max Mayer, a noted theatrical director who has also directed episodes of TV shows, “Adam” won the Alfred P. Sloan award at Sundance for a feature film with science as a theme.

This film is quirky and endearing, due to the astounding performances by both Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy. The bittersweet romance is effectively and startlingly well portrayed; as if emotional bonds between humans were not hard enough for people unaffected by this form of autism, “Adam” goes in depth to the dichotomy of love and its sorrows.

Also joining the cast are cinema veterans Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving, as Beth’s disapproving parents, both seasoning the film with heart-breaking and riveting performances. The motivations of each character fuel the movie and its plot – Beth moves in next door to Adam, who is coping with the recent loss of his father. Because of his mental condition, Adam’s father had assisted him in coping with society and its challenges. Initially physically attracted to Adam, Beth begins to see the full spectrum of Adam and his life.

“Adam” does not fall into the trap of “medical movie of the week” – it is a microscopic glance into the nuts and bolts of a relationship, complicated by a woman’s mistrust and a man’s capabilities that are transformed through his existence. The portrayals of complex characters are especially noteworthy, but all aspects of the film fluidly work together. Sharp pacing and artistic cinematography highlight the setting of New York City; “Adam” is one of those rare films where the performances remain unforgettable and worthy of recognition.