Kids' Stuff: Max Mayer's "Adam"

by robbiefreeling
July 29, 2009 2:41 AM
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It’s hard to imagine a receptive audience for Max Mayer’s Adam as anyone other than moony-eyed thirteen-year-old girls—not that Fox Searchlight would ever admit that this should be its target demographic. It’s an unimaginably precious retread of that most ubiquitous of rom-com plots, in which a troubled, misunderstood man comes out of his shell to earn the love of a beautiful, understanding young woman, but this one comes with an even more inflated sense of itself: this, after all, presumes to be an authentic look at the daily difficulties of functioning with Asperger’s Syndrome. And perhaps that’s where it started, in outline form, years ago. But in the transition to the screen, after going through industry cogs and gears, this Sundance-approved “charmer” has been squeezed out on the other side as something utterly prefab, a false facsimile of how people act in movie-land, a copy of a copy of human behavior. There isn’t a single shot or performance that feels honest, or that registers as anything other than passionless fodder for its players’ future highlight reels. (Is it just me, or is the “indie” branch of Fox singularly talented at searching out the least genuine, most contrived shitpiles in any given year? How do they do it?) Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky's review of Adam.

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  • Mary | August 28, 2009 3:46 AMReply

    False portrayal? When was the last time you met someone with aspergers? As a teacher of children with autism, I couldn't believe how accurate this portrayal was. This was an excellent movie, but obviously meant for people who have an understanding of what aspergers is and how incredibly difficult it is for a person with it to communicate feelings with others. The film is also meant for anyone who has a heart. Ignorant people should not see this movie. 13 year old girls may find this movie appealing for obvious reasons, but so will anyone who has ever met or loved a person with autism.

  • Travis Hoover | August 1, 2009 4:47 AMReply

    Uh, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but "challenged and resilient" is just as much a stereotype as "whimsical and wondrous". They're two sides of the same coin: W/W is the magical other who makes you feel so good about yourself while absolving you of considering the person's weaknesses, and C/R is the object of uncomplicated pity thus absolving you of considering the person's strengths. The point is to take the good things with the bad things- just like with everybody else. I'm not trying to go on the offensive here, just trying to point out an element of disability rights that's invisible to people due to its lack of publicity- i never learned until I was diagnosed and had a whole world open up that I never knew existed.

    Most of the things you describe here seem perfectly Aspergian symptoms- it doesn't sound like they're making anything up with this. I'm sure they bollocks things up with the follow-through, but this is exactly the kind of goofy stuff that one does when one is oblivious to the rules of society and starts doing weird things to the ridicule of everyone. You really do look like that kind of adorable schlep- or borderline perv- which attracts many Rose Byrne types, whose interest was more exploititave and condescending than genuinely concerned and friendly (it sounds like the depiction of the other person needs as much of a tweak as Adam's)

    By the way, "Pretending to be Normal" is a real book by Liane Holiday Willey and Tony Attwood- the latter a prominent doctor and the big name in autism studies. Much of the literature on the experience of Asperger's is written outside the non-medical academic/intellectual loop by scrappy autistics and medical specialists- hence the non-Faulknerian title. Such advocates are doing what they can, standing up for us and themselves with whatever crude aesthetics they can offer when official, well-turned culture fails to perceive us (not that non-autistic Tony's not without his own issues). Aesthetic fastidiousness is no indicator of intellectual fastidiousness, or political will.

    You couldn't be expected to know that. But I'm becoming aware that critics- myself included- have a habit of making sweeping pronouncements on subjects with which they have cursory familiarity, if any; there's a sureness to the conclusions here with which I'm a touch uncomfortable. My diagnosis has made me acutely aware of the consequences of such well-meaning but uninformed declarations (some of which I've made in the heat of my own critical isolation). Caveat emptor, my fellow scribblers, we all gotta watch ourselves.

    For the record, I'm pretty sure that this movie's gonna suck. Rest assured we'll confab.