Starring Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving. Directed by Max Mayer. 99mins.
Rated M (coarse language)
A romantic comedy – with a difference. Aren't they all? Well, this one has a significant difference: Asperges Syndrome.
Perhaps a description of the Syndrome is in order so that Adam's behaviour is more comprehensible. Asperges is a form of autism but is generally distinguished from classic autism by higher linguistic and cognitive functioning. Characteristics could include obsession or preoccupation with some subjects to the exclusion of others; repetitive routines and rituals; socially inappropriate behaviour; lack of emotional reciprocity; difficulty in reading what people are thinking.
The story is rather straightforward, familiar in style to many a New York romance. A young man buries his father who took care of him. He has Asperges Syndrome and now has to manage by himself. He encounters a vivacious young teacher, Beth, who moves into one of the apartments in the block. She is puzzled at first. He explains himself and she tries to adapt in her relationship with him. The difficulty is that he lacks the capacity to read people's emotions in their faces and body language. And he is basically blunt and truthful in his comments. As with some autistic men and women, he is highly intelligent and, when asked, offers encyclopedic answers to questions or simple leading remarks.
In the background are the young woman's parents and a difficult court case.
Hugh Dancy has emerged as a pleasing leading man (Evening, Confessions of a Shopaholic) and makes Adam a credible character with the audience trying to be empathetic towards him and the consequences of his condition as well as wondering, perhaps, how we might respond to him in real life. Rose Byrne is the teacher who makes efforts to adapt but finds that she lapses under pressure, especially with the prospect of her father's imprisonment. Her parents are played by veterans, Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving.
The plot development is not quite as we might have anticipated. However, it offers a pleasing story of relationships and challenges as well as giving the audience an opportunity to see and feel a story of a personal condition rather than simply respond to a medical definition.
Out August 20 20th Century Fox
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.