Adam, a Sundance favorite last year for a reason, is an excellent movie and a must see, prompting dialogue about disability, love, and what it truly means to be a human.
(SPOILER ALERT: This post is filled with parts of the plot that may ruin a first viewing of the film. Read with caution.)
Adam is a young man with Asberger syndrome, who has recently lost his father and is now falling in love with the new woman who moved into the apartment complex. But very soon the question arises whether or not Adam can actually love. Beth, the young woman who meets Adam, is able to overcome her hesitations and love this man, but there seems to be something keeping Adam from loving her. He is able to be honest about his own feelings, but is he able to have feelings for someone else? With Beth, it almost seems like she is filling the role his dad left behind: taking care of him. He needs her not because he loves her but because he can't live without her. But is it her specifically, or can anyone who cares enough fill the role in his life?
And yet because of her he is able to live on his own. For the first time he travels outside of the city, facing the metro and the snow to reach Beth when she has to go away. And he is able to live in California on his own because Beth pushed him out of his comfort zone, allowing him to better function in social settings. He wouldn't be the same man without her.
Throughout the movie I deeply longed for the two of them to be together, for everything to work out between them. And I was surprised to find that they don't, that this particular love story wasn't compromised for the stereotypical one. While my desire was disappointed, the startling ending made me contemplate the story more than I probably would have otherwise. The seemingly wrong ending jarred my into reflection. I realized the strenths of this movie, placing disabilty in a better light, making you realize those who have disabilities are normal, even possessing strengths us "normal" people can only dream of possessing. And yet it is honest about the limitations of disability as well. Though we would love for Beth and Adam to get together, Adam's inability to truly connect with another person and love them keeps it from happening. However, there appears to be no limit to how much he is able to better those around him. Beth is able to write an entire book about all the wonderful times she had with Adam and all that she has learned from him. And Adam is able to live on his own. He is even able to help the family friend reconnect with his old lover. And in a sense, it is only becuase of his "disability" that he is able to be truly honest with people and help them. What may seem to be a hindrance to himself is in fact a means to help others.
In this way, though Adam seems to be unable to love another person, he is loving towards others, maybe without even knowing it. Adam can't help but be helpful and honest, and in a way, the contrast between him and others shows the disabilities in others. Others, like Beth's father, are unable to wholly tell the truth. Adam couldn't tell a lie if he tried. Beth is drawn to Adam because he is so sweet, he offers something no other human seems to be able to. There is something about Adam that is just better than others. Though he may be inhibited in ways we are not, he far surpasses us in ways we fail. And, besides, who else knows as much about space and telescopes as Adam?
This is an excellent film that will not only pull at your heart as you watch, but will far surpass any other love stories you have seen as it allows you to reflect and contemplate on issues such as disabilities, and realize how human a person like Adam truly is and that in a sense, we are all disabled. But it is out differing disabilities that allow us to grow. May we all be bettered by an Adam and learn to be honest with others, always seeking the benefit of others, serving and loving others without even a hesitation to think of ourselves.