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By Patrick Samuel • February 8th, 2011
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Original release: July 29th, 2009
Running time: 95 minutes

Writer and director: Max Mayer
Composer: Christopher Lennertz

Cast: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne

National Autistic Society
What is Asperger syndrome?


Over the years I’ve gotten to grips with the fact that I have traits associated with Asperger Syndrome which would put me on the Autism spectrum, but on the other hand, this can also be said of anyone who grows anxious in social situations and has a set of finely tuned interests that border on obsession (like writing for an online film journal, for example!). Yet with practice I’ve learnt these difficulties can be overcome, maybe not altogether, but enough so that I can learn to put myself in the shoes of others and get a sense of that thing called “empathy”.

But as I’ve opened myself up more to social situations, I’ve come to realise that empathy, especially when living in a city like London, is something of a rarity. Daily encounters with commuters, shoppers and passers by leave me wondering how Aspergic I really am in a city of 8 million people who push, shove, fight, lie, cheat and steal, all without the slightest bit of feeling toward the next person, just to make it from A to B.

Adam, written by Max Mayer, who was inspired after listening to a radio interview with a man with Aspergers, is the story of a young man trying to cope with the world around him, but the people around him seem to make things more complicated than they really need to be. After his father dies, 29-year-old Adam (played by Hugh Dancy) is unable to pay the mortgage on the home they shared. He then loses his job. Faced with the idea of big changes ahead of him, Adam becomes, understandably, very scared and anxious of what could happen.


As he’s sitting on the front steps of his apartment building, Beth (Rose Byrne) is moving in and stops to talk to him. Beth doesn’t realise that if she wants help she needs to ask him because there’s no way he can know. She thinks him a bit odd but is intrigued by him. Adam tells her he has Asperger’s Syndrome and the next day she asks a colleague if people with this condition tend to make good “relationship material”. In her own way, Beth tries to help him, but her selfishness is what hinders their relationship; she looks after her own needs first and what she wants. This leads to her betraying him, but in the end Adam comes out of it all the better having established his independence, but I did feel sorry for his heartache and confusion.

A film like Adam is something of a rarity. Not only is the main character Aspergic, but the portrayal is in no way stereotypical, negative or crying out for attention. Instead, it’s beautifully told and for someone like me, Adam is extremely Adameasy to relate to; he does many of the things I do and his situations reflected my own. There’s also a wonderful humour to it, like when Beth gives him a box of chocolates and he remarks “I’m not Forrest Gump y’know!”

I know it’s not likely to happen, but for such a story, it would be great to continue it and see how Adam copes with other things that might pop up in his life. He’s such a likeable character and it’s a real credit to Hugh Dancy that he was able to so convincingly play all of these nuances that make Adam who he is. On the DVD’s special features there’s an interview with Rose Byrne who plays Beth. In it, she comments on how Beth falls in love with Adam despite his condition, it seems an odd choice of a word to me, why not “regardless”? Or even “because of”? After all, Adam will always love Beth regardless of how she treated him.

Although the tagline of the movie is “A story about two strangers. One a little stranger than the other…” there are no prizes for guessing which out of the two I thought was the strange one.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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