At first, you would think that Adam Raki (Hugh Dancy) is simply a geek whose life and brains revolve around the stars, the planets, and everything in the universe. He is like a walking encyclopedia—he talks endlessly about his favorite stuff factually. You would also think that Adam is an extreme introvert. He doesn’t talk a lot with anyone at work, his only friend is Harlan (Frankie Faison). The opening part of the film reveals that Adam’s father had just died, leaving Adam alone in the apartment, making him more isolated from other people.
Then comes a new neighbor in the apartment—Beth Buchwald (Rose Byrne). Beth is an only child working as a preschool teacher. Beth is so close with her father that she would see him more than her mother.
Adam and Beth’s first meeting had been awkward. This is where we first see how Adam doesn’t seem to express feelings for other people. Beth assumes that Adam would help her open the apartment’s door but until she said she needed help, Adam doesn’t move. We see a similar scene where Beth comes home with a heavy load of groceries. Adam sits by the stairs but doesn’t get up to help Beth.
Despite Adam’s difficulty with interaction, he still invites Beth to his apartment to show her his planetarium. He also brings Beth to the park to watch raccoons. There, their friendship begins. Later, Beth learns from Adam that he has Asperger’s syndrome, making him unable to express his emotions and understand what other people really mean. The two eventually enters a romantic relationship where Beth also coaches Adam for his upcoming job interview.
The concept of the film was to show a real-life experience of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). The signs can be seen on the male protagonist and as told by him. I find this as an eye-opener for those who are unable to cope with people who have Asperger’s. In the film, while Adam is unable to show his feelings, he still wanted to be loved. He also has a tendency to hurt himself when he feels frustrated or rejected. The filmmakers could have shown some the main character’s positive attributes aside from the fact that he is a science genius and he is capable of loving.
Then there comes the character of Beth who is to be Adam’s “savior” from his social awkwardness. She brings him to parties, lets him meet her family, and teaches him how to act properly for his interview. Adam appears to be a person here only in need of help—that without Beth, he cannot go on with the world. I haven’t actually met a person with AS but I believe that the positive attributes could have been highlighted, too.
There are a few scenes which lack continuity and I find those a little disturbing especially when you are focusing not just with the story but also with the technical aspects of a production. Here are those:
- Adam and Beth’s apartment. In the scene where Adam and Beth first meets, we see that Adam lives upstairs. It can also be established that he lives upstairs in the scene where he suspends from the window wearing his astronaut costume. In the scene where Adam first explains to Beth that he has Asperger’s, Adam asks Beth at the door (of Adam’s house): “Can I see you again?” to which Beth replies, “I just live upstairs.” (non verbatim)
- Still, Adam’s apartment. I not really sure if Adam’s apartment is at the end of the hallway or if he lives near the stairs.
- Beth’s real name. When Beth’s father asks her that Adam is not the right person for her, he calls her “Bethany.” In the last scene of the film, Adam receives the book that Beth had successfully written. Her name on the book is “Elizabeth Buchwald.”
Still a good ending
Audience are left in their own devices as to what could have happened with Adam and Beth. But we see at the end of the story that they are both successful in their new lives. And maybe, this is the redemption part of Adam.