“Adam”
 
We begin with a slight, bewildered man holding a tri-folded American flag, standing by the grave of his father.  He seems very alone.  Then, back at his apartment, eating the same dinner, night after night (macaroni and cheese).  Adam (Hugh Dancy) lives a solitary life.  He goes to work in a small office, where he seems to barely connect to those around him.  He’s working on some sort of mechanical talking doll.  His boss keeps coming by to tell him that he needs 1000 at $10, not 10 at $1000.  But Adam can’t help his perfectionism.  In fact, it seems that there is much about himself that he can’t help, the most obvious being a distinct lack of social adaptability.  We learn that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.  He has difficulty making eye contact with others.  He doesn’t really know what others are thinking, and assumes that what they mean is exactly what they say.  He doesn’t have any real friends.  There is an older fella, an Army buddy of his Dad’s, who comes by to check up on him every once in a while, and maybe drive him somewhere he needs to go, in a beat-up old van that seems as out of place on the streets of New York City as Adam himself.
Enter Beth (Rose Byrne).  She seems fairly normal; they literally bump into each other on the way to the laundry room.  She appears to converse normally;  he emits a painful reluctance and a palpable uncomfortableness.  There’s something about Beth  that wants to help fill in the gaps for Adam.  To fill in the blanks of his long silences and his awkward assumptions about what might pass for pleasant conversation.  He’s not a chit-chatter.  He looks at her like he expects her to say something, and so she does. 
Because Beth has her own sense of stunted emotional growth---a boyfriend whom she just caught cheating on her, a painful sense of emotional vulnerability, an apparent lack of social network because of recently moving in to the apartments and accepting a school teaching job nearby----she, too, seems isolated and alone.  We discover she has parents, and they live not far away, but they don’t seem to be all that important in her life, either.  And so Beth and Adam are sort of thrown together like two survivors in a lifeboat----practically forced to relate to one another for the sake of preservation of sanity, if not preservation of self.
Do we root for the relationship?  Yes, because there seem to be some redemptive elements for both of them, but No, because it still seems to be uneven;  far from reciprocal or mutual.  She’s afraid that he relies on her a little too much, and yet she’s also afraid to be alone.  She says she wants to write, and he says he really wants to be an astronomer, and both deal with the difficulty of life not meeting expectations, and relationships rarely reflecting hope for their own future.  But it’s not a “downer,” despite the melancholy music, because we so much want to see our main characters transcend the traps of their own devising.  Ah, if we could only become who we were really meant to be…..\
“Adam” cannot be considered a mere “rom-com” (romantic comedy), because it refuses to indulge in schmaltz.  It cannot be considered an action/adventure because it’s incredibly narrowly focused---a very small circle of people, none of them famous, none of them extraordinarily gifted, all of them trying desperately to not become their own worst enemies.  But we want to root for “Adam,” because of the delicately-wrought performances, aided by a well-written script that actually tries to plow some new ground.  It’s a unique little indie film that is best enjoyed without the burden of great expectation.
Questions For Discussion:
1)      When have you been your own worst enemy?
2)      When have others around you disappointed you so much that you found yourself unable to forgive and forget?
3)      When have you been in a relationship that you knew wasn’t forever, but you just wanted it for the moment?  Looking back now, was it worth it?
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas