You’ve met them before. Perhaps you are one of them. I don’t know whether the correct term is “suffer from” or “afflicted by.” Surely, you have found yourself in a conversation with a gentle soul who has a hard time picking up social signals.
At a party, you are cornered by a guy who talks endlessly about his observations on the dimensions of outer space. He may have no idea that you want to flee the premises. He does not seem to notice that your eyes are glazing over.
Maybe you’re a young woman attracted to this enthusiastic fellow. You drop a hint. You reach for his hand, maybe deliver a soft kiss. After, he may ask something like, “Were you sexually excited?”
Directed by: Max Mayer
Screenplay by: Max Mayer
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving, Frankie Faison, Mark Linn-Baker
Running time: 97 minutes
We may all have those selfish, clueless moments, but if they are chronic, prepare for a diagnosis. Maybe the shrink you see will declare you have Asperger’s Syndrome, an emotional condition that renders you unable to pick up social signals or deal effectively with changes, such as a father’s death. If you are bright, as Aspies often are, why are you wedded to habitual behavior, such as eating frozen macaroni-and-cheese dinners day after day?
In need of help
Such is the predicament of Adam in Max Mayer’s movie of the same name. At 29, he has lost his father and his job as an electrical engineer. He is in danger of losing his spacious Manhattan apartment if he doesn’t take some sort of positive action. With his inevitable social gaffes, he is misunderstood. Clearly, he needs help.
Along comes a new upstairs tenant. As played by Rose Byrne, Beth Buchwald is a compassionate soul who finds herself attracted to this gentle oddball named Adam. He is portrayed by British actor Hugh Dancy, who not only masters the American accent but delivers a credible and touching performance as a nice, clueless guy — who just needs to emerge from his shell with a little help from his friends and a girlfriend who cares for him.
Mayer does not clutter his movie with psychiatric sessions or phony sermons about mental health. Instead, he integrates the issues with a budding love story. The result is a movie that informs and stimulates our awareness, entertaining us at the same time. Along the way, he steers our attention to a subplot involving Beth’s upper-crust parents, played effectively by Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving.
“Adam” does not have the dramatic clout of a “Rain Man,” but with its sweet depictions and astute observations, it establishes a poignant and meaningful connection with its audience.