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Adam (2009 film)

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Title: Adam (2009 film)  
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Subject: List of films at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Alfred P. Sloan Prize, Romantic comedy film, 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Wretches & Jabberers
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Adam (2009 film)

Promotional film poster
Directed by Max Mayer
Produced by Miranda De Pencier
Leslie Urdang
Dean Vanech
Written by Max Mayer
Starring Hugh Dancy
Rose Byrne
Frankie Faison
Mark Linn-Baker
Amy Irving
Peter Gallagher
Music by Christopher Lennertz
Cinematography Seamus Tierney
Edited by Grant Myers
Olympus Pictures
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • July 29, 2009 (2009-07-29)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3,200,000
Box office $2,549,605[1]

Adam is an American romantic drama film written and directed by Max Mayer, starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne. The film follows the relationship between a young man named Adam (Dancy) with Asperger syndrome, and Beth (Byrne). Mayer was inspired to write the film's script when he heard a radio interview with a man who had Asperger's.

Filming took place in New York in December 2005. The film premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize, and was released in the United States on July 29, 2009. The release date in Canada and the UK was 7 August 2009 in Australia, and everywhere else after Labor Day.


Adam Raki (Dancy) is a young man, who has Asperger syndrome, living alone in Manhattan after his father's recent death. He has a friend, Harlan Keyes (Frankie Faison), an old army friend of his father's, who is always there for him. Because of his condition, Adam has difficulty communicating with others and likes to escape into his love of space exploration. His fixation on detail, repetitive behaviors, and mind-blindness cost him his job at a toy manufacturing company and nearly get him arrested after he is mistaken for a pedophile. He has been living in the apartment he and his father shared, and does not want to leave it, but the loss of his job leaves him with an uncertain future, including the problem of continuing to pay the mortgage.

Beth Buchwald (Byrne), a school teacher and aspiring children's book writer, moves into the apartment above his and they strike up an awkward friendship. One night, Beth is shocked to find him trying to clean her apartment windows suspended from the roof of the building in a spacesuit.

Beth takes a liking to Adam despite his oddities. Adam hopes for a relationship, but the first attempts are uneasy due to his fear of social interaction. Eventually he breaks out of his mechanical routines enough to be able to date Beth.

When he tries to ask Beth if she was aroused as he was by their spotting of raccoons during an outing to Central Park, she is taken aback. Adam admits his Asperger's to her, explaining his inability to interpret her emotions. Surprised by his innocence, Beth understands the reason for his question and they continue dating. Eventually their relationship becomes intimate with Beth helping him understand how to better connect with her, how to introduce himself to her family, and how to interview for a new job.

Things go downhill as Beth's father, Marty (Peter Gallagher), gets into legal trouble. Adam naively asks him questions about the details of Marty's alleged crimes; this creates a rift with Beth, although they later make up.

Marty pleads guilty and is about to be sentenced. Beth's mother (Amy Irving) calls Adam trying to find Beth. She asks him to check Beth's calendar for any way to reach her. He finds that Beth had put down a reminder to meet her parents on the night they "unexpectedly" bumped into each other. Beth knew that Adam would be uncomfortable, so she and her father engineered an "accidental" meeting. When Beth confirms this, Adam angrily accuses her of being a liar and her father a criminal. Beth storms out and goes to her parents' home.

Adam gets a call from the Mount Wilson Observatory in California offering a job there building microcircuits for satellite guidance and navigation systems. He is uncertain about leaving the home he has known for most of his life. Feeling guilty for the things he said to Beth, he sets out by any means of transportation to the Buchwalds' home in upstate New York, even on foot, to apologize to Beth. He asks her to go to California with him. Marty tries to convince Beth not to go with someone "not of this world." This leads to a heated argument with Beth, who tells her father that he has lied to her and the family about his crimes.

Beth returns with Adam to New York City to prepare him to go to California, but she has second thoughts when always sincere Adam mentions that he needs her and she realizes that she would need to take care of him. Even though Adam professes his love for her, Beth decides to stay in New York and dump him for good, submitting to her father's self-serving advice.

A year later, while working his dream job as an astronomer at the observatory and learning to be more social, Adam receives a package from Beth, containing her first published children's book inspired by the early events of their relationship. He reads it as the twirling stars of the cosmos light up the Californian night sky.



Max Mayer formed the idea for Adam when he heard a man with Asperger syndrome being interviewed on National Public Radio about how he viewed the world. He was intrigued and, after doing further research on Asperger's, felt that the syndrome was a metaphor for "the tension between all of us human beings [... and] the desire to connect to one another".[2] As he worked on the screenplay, Mayer drew the character of Adam from the man he had heard talking on the radio in addition to his research, while Beth's character was based on numerous people Mayer knew.[2] Hugh Dancy and Mayer worked together for a month before filming began to develop Adam's character,[2] and in preparation for his role, Dancy spoke with individuals affected by Asperger's about their feelings, sensory issues and interests.[3]

Principal photography took place in New York City in December 2005.[4] Specific filming locations included Greenwich Village and Central Park.[4][5]


Adam had its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2009 where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize for "an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character."[6] Although producer Leslie Urdang was initially doubtful of the film's chances of finding a distributor at Sundance,[7] Fox Searchlight Pictures bought the distribution rights.[8] In March 2009, Adam was screened at the Method Fest Independent Film Festival, winning the Jury Award for Best Picture.[9] It was shown at the Seattle International Film Festival,[10] Edinburgh Film Festival,[11] CineVegas Film Festival[12] and San Francisco Jewish Film Festival[13] before it had a U.S. theatrical release on July 29, 2009. It was released on DVD January 5, 2010.[14]


The movie received mixed reviews. Roger Ebert gave it 2.5/4 stars, saying that the movie "wraps up their story in too tidy a package, insisting on finding the upbeat in the murky, and missing the chance to be more thoughtful about this challenging situation." The movie holds a 64% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and 56% at Metacritic. Nina Caplan of Time Out London accused the movie of dishonesty: "But it’s not clear why a pretty daddy’s girl would fall for a talkative and lonesome engineer with Asperger’s and a space fixation."

The movie was also somewhat of a flop, making only around 80% of the spent budget at the box office and losing millions of dollars to the producers.


  1. "A Friendly Face"- Flipper Dalton
  2. "Gone Away"- Lucy Schwartz
  3. "Someone Else's Life"- Joshua Radin
  4. "Plastic Flowers"- The Hiders
  5. "Into The Light"- The Alexandria Quartet
  6. "Beautiful Day"- Miranda Lee Richards
  7. "When You Find Me"- Joshua Radin feat. Maria Taylor
  8. "Can't Go Back Now"- The Weepies
  9. "Somebody Loved"- The Weepies
  10. "Girl With the Light Brown Hair"- Charlotte Politte
  11. "Jingle Bells"
  12. "O Christmas Tree"


  1. ^ "Adam".  
  2. ^ a b c Detweiler, Craig (January 24, 2009). "Adam: Screenwriter/Director Max Mayer and producer Miranda De Pencier". The Kindlings.  
  3. ^ Raymaker, Dora (January 12, 2009). "Consulting on Adam, an Interview with Jason Ross". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Greenwich Village Film Shoots Report Card 2005". Greenwich Village Block Associations. 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  5. ^ Pastorek, Whitney (January 19, 2009). "Sundance: Zooey Deschanel, Patton Oswalt, and the rise of the anti-'Hotel for Dogs' lobby".  
  6. ^ Kay, Jeremy (January 24, 2009). "Max Mayer's Adam wins Alfred P Sloan Prize at Sundance".  
  7. ^ Horn, John (December 4, 2008). "It's nervous-making time at Sundance".  
  8. ^ Sperling, Nicole; Vary, Adam B. (January 23, 2009). "The Hollywood Insider".  
  9. ^ "MethodFest names 'Adam' as Best Picture".  
  10. ^ "Adam".  
  11. ^ "Adam".  
  12. ^ "2009 Festival Program Announced".  
  13. ^ "San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 29 Catalog". Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  14. ^ "VideoETA Release Guide".  

External links

Preceded by
Sleep Dealer
Alfred P. Sloan Prize Winner
Succeeded by
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