Biopics about famously accomplished people who succeed despite their handicaps are prime Oscar fodder. But fictional films about ordinary people with disabilities are much more unpredictable. Adam is one of those rare gems that manages to meet at the crossroads.
Adam (Dancy) has a mild form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. Essentially, he doesn’t understand basic social cues, making it difficult for him to interact with other people. But his relationship with new neighbor Beth (Byrne) changes all that. As Adam becomes more comfortable with Beth, he also becomes more comfortable with society. This gradual transformation culminates in Adam’s slightly disappointing, but ultimately fitting, ending, and only adds to its credibility.
Adam’s greatest strength comes from its lead actors’ performances. Byrne delights as Beth, perfectly balancing wit, vulnerability and mettle to captivate viewers from the first scene she steals. Her understanding and acceptance of Adam’s faults makes her the only believable partner for the man-child. Equally impressive is Dancy’s take on Adam. From the marked awkwardness to the continuous lack of eye contact, Dancy completely disappears into the persona of Adam. Known mostly for his romantic lead roles, Dancy proves with Adam that he’s ready to leave his days as Prince Charming behind.