“Adam” Steals Hearts

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Bailey Cross writes, Grade: A+ Who would have thought that combining a socially awkward young man…

Grade: A+ Who would have thought that combining a socially awkward young man, a beautiful new neighbor, and a major recent change in lifestyle in 93 minutes of comedic masterpiece would make for such a touching story? Certainly not I.The concept for “Adam” is solid gold in the movie industry. Sheltered all of his life, Adam (Hugh Dancy) finds his life drastically changed after the recent death of his father. All alone for the first time in his 29 years, Adam resorts to a closed off existence, eating microwavable macaroni and cheese for every meal, looking for a real job, and adding to his already infinite knowledge of space. That is until Beth (Rose Byrne) moves into the building.From day one, Beth realizes that something about Adam is not quite right. It’s not until half way into the movie that the audience learns that Adam has Asperger’s Syndrome. But what exactly is Asperger’s? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects one’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. People with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.” Asperger’s Syndrome is the mildest form of Autism.I had the opportunity to interview the director, Max Mayer, alongside Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne. “I was in my car listening to National Public Radio who was interviewing a young man with Asperger’s and the challenges he faces everyday like wondering when to talk, shut up, smile, not smile,” Max Mayer said as he explained his reasoning for making Adam. “I was very moved, and I don’t get moved that easily. I started researching Asperger’s, and it became, in my mind, the perfect metaphor for human relationships, whether they be very specific or universal. Adam’s about a relationship without the talent for a relationship.”So how would someone such as Hugh Dancy who had no prior knowledge that Asperger’s Syndrome even existed go about researching such a little known topic? “I knew nothing, didn’t know what Asperger’s Syndrome was, what it was like, and it was not something you want to do a halfhearted job on. So, I read everything I could, spoke to everyone I could talk to, and I did my best,” he informed me. “I was surprised because as I was having conversations with people about Asperger’s, they would be, ‘Oh, yeah, right, that’s that one girl [Heather Kuzmich in 2007] from America’s Next Top Model!’ It’s wild how in the right show, or in the right pop culture, it can just open everybody’s mind to it.” “This film was a huge life lesson for me,” Hugh Dancy continued. “The role of Adam was daunting and difficult but kind of freeing. It forced me to be content and sacrifice what most actors rely on when acting because this role was so different than anything I’ve ever done before. With the character Adam’s naïveté, there was potential for a lot of comedy. There’s just something so innocent about him. For instance, he can’t tell a lie, and can’t imagine why someone else would lie to him.”Suddenly, Rose Byrne cut in. ” And the script was beautifully written, really engaging and wonderfully studied! With all of the movies I’ve been in before, horror, thriller, action, sci-fi, I never had a chance to play someone like Beth, so I was attracted to this role because she’s a bit closer to who I am.”After being shot in an astonishing 25 days (compared to average of more than 4 months,) “Adam” is “a very non-stereotypical movie that showed an actual, real person dealing with Asperger’s,” according to Lawrence Rothhaupt, a Denver man who was diagnosed in 1994 with having Asperger’s after having lived with it for 40+ years. “When I was a kid, everyone just thought that I was the weird guy and I didn’t know why. I didn’t pick up on all of kid’s social cues, didn’t get their jokes, and didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. Everyone just kind of dismissed me as an ‘arrogant’ kid who needed to be left alone. Back then no one knew about Asperger’s. Hopefully Adam will bring awareness to the public about Asperger’s syndrome. [Adam] may not be what America wants. There’s no blood or guts or people singing. But it’s what America needs.”For more information, check out http://www.foxsearchlight.com/adam, or see “Adam” now playing in select theaters.