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Time Out New York Project: Issue #722, July 30-August 5, 2009
Dir. Max Mayer. 2009. PG-13. 99mins. Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving.
She’s an aspiring children’s-book writer. He’s a science whiz with Asperger’s syndrome. Theirs is l’amour of astonishing fou…but not really. The relationship between Adam (Dancy) and Beth (Byrne)—as well as the film that contains it—is an “unusual love story” along the lines of Frank Perry’s mental-asylum melodrama, David and Lisa (1962). It’s hogwash of the highest order, a romanticized take on disability that sees it both as God-gifted higher calling and seductive precoital bling.
That Adam isn’t an unpleasant sit is thanks mainly to the efforts of the cast. Dancy and Byrne are a sweet and sexy duo, even when writer-director Max Mayer pushes the star-crossed-lovers metaphor to its breaking point. Some side-plot intrigue with Beth’s parents (Gallagher and Irving) also serves to show how good actors can overcome subpar material. This is especially true in Irving’s case. She shades her cuckolded wife with an intriguing number of grays, especially in an intimate, late-film confession scene. But it’s only a matter of time before the shots start craning skyward, the introspective alt rock begins blaring, and the desire kicks in for Irving’s psychic destroyer from The Fury to blow it all to hell.—Keith Uhlich