Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Adam - Premiere at Sundance

I'm still playing catchup from my Sundance Trip, and I'm finally to Monday, our last full day at the festival. We saw four movies that day, and I want to highlight Adam in its own post because it was probably the movie I enjoyed the most at Sundance. I was certainly looking forward to it the most, and pestered my husband about how we had to get there early to get a good place in the ticket line. We even had a strategy and split up when they opened the doors so that we might have a better chance to get seats in front of the podium. At the Eccles theater, the front left section is reserved for the cast and crew of the movie, but the first three rows are free. If you see all the reserved signs, you might just turn back, but I ran up front and scored seats in the third row right in front, perfect for the Q&A. Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne were seated four rows directly behind me during the screening! I was close enough to see the tears in director Max Mayer's eyes when the audience rose in a spontaneous standing ovation after the film. No other film we saw at Sundance had that kind of audience reaction.

Adam is a very sweet romance with a twist - the main character has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. Adam can mostly take care of himself, but he has problems in social situations and can't read the social cues that the rest of us can. He wants to connect, but it is very difficult for him. Max Mayer, the first time feature director, introduced the film by talking about how making a romantic movie is hard in modern times. What can keep the couple apart?

Rose Byrne plays Beth, a young woman who moves into a new apartment in New York. She's attracted to the cute guy in the apartment downstairs, but he's a little odd. He doesn't seem to notice when she's laden down with groceries, and he seems to avoid eye contact. After a very awkward exchange when he asks if she was sexually excited when they were at the park, he admits to her that he has Asperger's. She doesn't give up on him, and a touching romance develops. There's a side plot where Beth's father, played by Peter Gallagher of The O.C. is on trial for embezzlement. Amy Irving plays Beth's mother, and it was great to see her acting again. Frankie Faison plays Adam's friend.

Hugh Dancy is just excellent in this film. Dancy's Adam is sweet but not too sappy. "Aspies", as Adam calls them, can be very high functioning, but you can just see how lonely Adam is. He wants so badly to reach out to Beth, and he just doesn't know how. Beth and Adam's story seems very honest and real to me. One audience member got very emotional during the Q&A. Her grandson has Asperger's and she felt the movie was very true to what it's like, and she started crying she was so grateful for the way this was made.

Hugh Dancy has always been an emotional actor, and I think his portrayal of Adam is some of his best work ever. There was even buzz in some of the online reviews I read of this film speculating that he might get nominated for an Oscar next year. Fox Searchlight picked up the film right away, and hopefully it should get a fall release. This movie should work very well with mainstream audiences. Three and a half stars. Loved it.

We took tons of pictures at the Q&A, and you can view them here on Flickr.

There's no trailer yet, but I found three clips:

Adam, I'm having lunch:

Were you excited?:

Adam meets the parents:

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