There was more than a grain of truth in the episode of Extras that saw Kate Winslet claim that actors always get awards for playing “mentals”.
In this new film from writer and director Max Mayer we get Adam (Hugh Dancy), an autistic man who lives a lonely and sheltered life with his father and works as a talented but slow working electrical engineer. Then one day his father dies and leaves him alone, and he later loses his beloved job. Then one day into his building moves the beautiful, sexy and intelligent children’s teacher Beth (Rose Byrne) and they begin a fledgling relationship. She brings him out of himself and his home and they seem to have a possible future together. She even learns that he has Aspergers syndrome and seems willing to have a proper relationship with him, but things change fast and will his condition prove to be a stumbling block?
One of the problems with films that feature one character who has some kind of mental problem is that you find it either clichéd, crass or stereotypical. Here Hugh Dancy does extremely well playing Adam and showing us pretty accurately how people with Aspergers act and function and although he has his quirks and idiosyncrasies he is a fairly likeable character that you do actually care and root for.
Byrne is great in her role too but if you are used to seeing her in the TV show Damages you will be shocked here as she actually laughs and smiles in this film. Her role though as a children’s teacher and new writer is a pretty clichéd way for the audience to gain insight and knowledge into Adam’s condition which really is something you would not think of drawing laughs from. However there are some great scenes of genuine comedy that grow from this condition.
However, you know that his condition will play a massive part in the film’s climax and it shows the writing up that you see where the film is going from very early on which spoils it slightly for the viewer.
Nonetheless, all the performances are good and the direction solid. Furthermore, the soundtrack is fantastic with some great tunes old and new that would survive being listened to outside the film. But overall this is really just a romantic drama version of Rain Man and contains an ending that lets down the whole affair and shows that Hollywood when given the chance to be bold decides to go for a twee and safe finale that conservative American audiences would be happy with.