Autism Spectrum Australia

Adam - a review by Ben Calandruccio

  • Posted: 30/08/2017
  • Author: Ben Calandruccio
  • Comments: Loading.. .
Ben Calandruccio is a movie fan, writer and a young man on the autism spectrum.
He's back with a new review, of the movie "Adam"


When one is diagnosed with a life-changing disability, such as Autism, it could affect their voice, their movements, or even perhaps their outlook on life, depending on how severe the disability is. Life, Animated has shown us that one can triumph over adversity and live a normal life despite the disability, while White Frog has shown us that one has to learn to move on with a new chapter in life whether or not you’re ready to accept the reality. And in Adam’s case, you do get a bit of both for this movie.

Our main character, Adam Raki, is a character trying to live independently with Autism. He notably aspires to learn more about space, and even has a telescope to indulge in his pleasure of the night sky. Adam is played Englishman Hugh Dancy, and like White Frog’s Booboo Stewart, he has done his homework on Asperger’s Syndrome. Hugh knows how to behave, react and speak like an Autistic person; playing as Adam, he likes to repeat his routines, is meticulous and sometimes shy, and even goes on for a bit in some conversations. In fact, Adam actually somewhat reminds me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, only much nicer and more respectful to an extent.

The movie begins with shots of Adam eating dinner being mixed with attending his father’s funeral. The opening actually symbolises Adam’s routine – he eats the same food such as macaroni and cheese, broccoli and All-Bran cereal; has a chore schedule that he and his father followed; and even recites certain things, the most common topic being space. And when it’s not space related, he actually recites and remembers other things, such as an episode of Inside the Actors Studio with Julia Roberts.

Following the funeral, Adam actually returns to his chores after removing his father’s name from the list, starting by sweeping the apartment. That said, over time he does run out of food and clothes to wear, apparently never having learned how to shop for food or do the laundry. He eventually does do the laundry, though he does so with a huge bag of dirty clothes while wearing a suit with no shirt. It’s a good thing he didn’t go outside the apartment dressed like that.

During this time, he first meets Beth (played by Rose Byrne, an Australian) in the laundry room, and the two do begin a slow yet awkward friendship. A good example of this is where Adam, in a conversation with Beth, asks her to narrow down what she’s talking about. And when he isn’t doing that, he converses as if he were Sheldon Cooper, adoring the concept of space much to the annoyance of his father’s former friend, Harlan.

When his father was around at the time, Adam was given an opportunity to work at a toy factory, designing computer chips with the utmost care. While Adam’s meticulousness does make him work wonders, he doesn’t get rewarded by his boss, who is asking for ‘quantity over quality’ and to speed things up with the chips. Eventually, he is let go by the boss of the toy factory due to not adapting to the demanded pace. And yet the most unfortunate thing about that is that the boss didn’t even know that Adam’s father had died prior.

Another noted trait that Adam has is watching people in his downtime. This actually goes on to bite him hard following being fired by the boss, as the police arrive at the nearby school due to Adam being mistaken as a paedophile by some anonymous tipster. Most likely due to being overwhelmed with the situation he is in, Adam struggles to co-operate with police. Fortunately, he is free to go almost immediately, with the misunderstanding soon cleared up.

Although Adam falters to give a coherent conversation due to being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and even a co-worker implies to Beth that Adam is not dating material, the two actually do get to become more than just friends. One of my favourite scenes involving the two is Adam washing Beth’s apartment windows at night… while wearing a spacesuit. Like David Bowie, he is a Space Oddity.

Adam’s problems with social skills continue somewhat; despite being in a growing relationship with Beth, he alienates some people at a party by not wanting to see the video of a baby child, and continues to converse like Sheldon Cooper. Ranging from a conversation about telescopes going over the partygoers’ heads, to a conversation about a play veering off into a biography about the theatre itself, it is evident that he just doesn’t know the right time to stop talking.

Although Adam and Beth evidently become a couple, the love betwixt the two is soon tested; after Beth ends up leaving Adam after being accused of ‘lying’ to him, he eventually ends up walking from his apartment all the way to Richmond Road to find her. Although the two do get back together after Adam informs Beth about a job related to space in California, Beth ultimately concedes that due to Adam’s lack of reciprocation, she closes the book on her relationship with Adam.

Despite the spanner in the works, Adam moves to California, excelling in his new job at the observatory, with his interest in telescopes and space alongside his memory making him succeed. He has also become more sociable, as he is speaking to fellow workers in a friendly manner. Despite what has happened, Beth still keeps in touch with Adam sporadically, giving him a children’s book with his name as the title. The final scene pretty much symbolises how far Adam has come in only one year after the death of his father.

Adam is a film that knows when to be serious; despite Adam’s traits due to Asperger’s Syndrome, the movie is well-rounded by the unlikely romance between him and Beth, which makes him grow into an improved person that can move on after bad things happen in life. The interaction the two share – especially Adam – is awkward at times, although it does paint an accurate portrait on how people affected with Autism have a hard time trying to stay on topic during conversations, or even have the confidence to do something that is unknown to them.

That said, despite neither of the leads being American, Rose Byrne did a good job as Beth, a woman trying to be in a relationship with an Autistic adult, while Hugh Dancy has pretty much done the best performance of the movie as Adam, the said adult who endures adversity in an attempt to live independently. Hugh might have made the best film portrayal of a person diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome that I have seen as of typing. And whilst there are some minor flaws with the film, Adam still manages to inspire the Aspie-affected people to be independent despite seeing many obstacles in their paths.

It is possible for someone with Autism to find the right job, make some new friends, and even maybe begin a relationship. Most surprisingly, the movie explores the idea of changing your routine and making major changes in one’s life. It can be a hard thing to do, but it can be worth doing in the long run.

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Adam - a review by Ben Calandruccio