He’ll Give You What You Need…
Main Cast: Stuart Townsend, Kate Hudson, Frances O’Connor
Director: Gerard Stembridge
Sometimes you think you know just what you’re getting in a movie, just from the blurb on the packaging. Particular movies scream “chick flick” so loud that anyone with a Y chromosome runs screaming. Often, anything falling into the “romantic comedy” genre fits this description to a T. Such were my thoughts when I set out to watch About Adam. I figured that this one was destined for the dustbin of lame girl movies. But it turns out that I was wrong! How could such a thing happen? This absolutely unprecedented event left me flummoxed to the point where I wanted to scream “but you’re supposed to be for girls only! How can I review you now, when I know an actual guy liked you, too? Has the earth tilted off its axis?” The answers to these mind bending questions are 1) with my handy computer and 2) yes, seems so.
So here we have a movie masquerading as a chick flick. Not that I have anything in particular against the chick flick, but being a, ahem, chick. I’m just often offended at the low standards set for such movies. Boy meets girl, loses girl, pithy dialogue follows, and boy invariably rescues girl. I’m certainly not immune to some of their charms, and admit with shame to shedding a tear or two at some incredibly sappy endings, but the most I generally expect is the formula done well. About Adam simply refuses to follow the formula!
We have our requisite boy in Adam (Stuart Townsend) and girl in Lucy (Kate Hudson). The two meet at the Dublin restaurant/night club where Lucy waits tables and occasionally sings. It seems that Lucy has a habit of serial boyfriendery, and having just broken up with her previous hapless boy, she is more than pleased to spot Adam in the crowd one night. She waits on his table, flirting shamelessly, but Adam doesn’t take the bait. She eventually has to ask him out, something to which she is clearly unaccustomed. Adam has flustered her.
We then meet the rest of Lucy’s family. Her Mum, Peggy (Rosaleen Linehan), and two sisters; Laura (Frances O’Connor) and Alice (Charlotte Bradley), as well as her brother David (Alan Maher). Laura is scholarly and serious, with high romantic ideals about what love should be. She tends to be unimpressed with Lucy’s string of suitors, instead dreaming of finding her one true passion. Alice is unhappily married to Martin (Brendan Dempsey) and the mother to baby Jean. Alice is somewhat cynical, and sees Adam simply as Lucy’s latest boy. David is, well, her brother (not a lot of character development early on there).
So far we’re still pretty much on formula, as we see Lucy begin to fall in love with Adam, and the inevitable heartbreak and reconciliation seem to be imminent. But then, something happens. Formula…..wrecked. No….heartbreak. Confused.
Adam does indeed indulge in some potential heartbreaking behavior with the sisters, as well as the brother. In short, he gives them what they want. Not only that, he seems to give them what they need. Sexually and otherwise. With each family member, Adam is a different person. His mannerisms, habits and personality all change depending on whose needs are being met. There are plenty of instances where he is an absolute cad, and there are certainly times where he comes off as an absolute beast. Somehow, though, Adam seems to have an uncanny ability to be what everyone needs, and do it without any of the others finding out (or caring, if they do). He has a rather magical ability to be all things to all people. Adam’s personal history even changes depending upon the situation. For example, each family member gets a different story on the origins of his car. And each story is the one that best fits the personality that Adam wears when he is with that person.
What we have is basically the same chain of events, told by each of the siblings in turn. This is how we know about all of Adam’s (and the sibling’s) various misdeeds. The thing we don’t see is Adam’s view. He is really quite mysterious. In truth, each member of the family uses Adam for their own purposes, so certainly has no motivation to divulge their own bad behavior. Only Alice manages to put some of the pieces together, which, of course, does in no way stop her from having a little Adam for herself. For a bunch of backstabbing nogoodniks, the family is a remarkably functional group, who are for the most part genuinely happy for Lucy and her new found love. Adam for them is simply a vessel through which they can release something of themselves, be more free, take the risks they need to be happy. And Adam, the ultimate human chameleon, is happy to oblige.
About Adam was written and directed by Gerard Stembridge, who definitely takes the chance of having the audience
simply detest his hero. The sequences are all arranged so that Adam is revealed a bit at a time, to good effect. The performances are, for the most part, solid. Townsend is wonderful as Adam, it is both funny and a little disconcerting to see how different he can be depending on the situation he faces. The one performance that is lacking is that of Kate Hudson. This seems like a major flaw, but unlike the typical chick flick, our damsel is not the focal point of every scene, she isn’t even in half of them. The problem with her performance is that she isn’t, well, Irish. Her accent doesn’t actively stink, but it’s inconsistent, and some of her grammar and slang are distinctly American. Assuming she was cast to improve the chances that the movie would succeed in the states, she does all right. If she was cast because someone thought her perfect for the role, she did lousy.
The DVD version contains a behind the scenes featurette, the trailer, and some previews. The movie is rated R, and there are quite a number of sex scenes with heaving female parts (significantly improving the XY appeal – an over generalization to be sure, but it worked in this house), but the actual nudity is minimal.
Overall, I must say that this movie surprised me. I liked the sly wit of Adam, as well as his slightly magical quality. The sisters (and brother) are not cookie cutter characters, particularly in their behavior and distinct lack of guilt over said behavior. It is definitely “cute” (a distinctly chick like phrase), but with a slightly wicked edge that makes it quite appealing. I recommend it, particularly for couples (those darn hard to please couples!) that have a hard time finding a movie they can both enjoy. 4 stars.
photo by Katie Kiehn