I recently saw Adam. An obscure love story about how the eponymous Adam (Hugh Dancy from Hannibal) despite having Asperger's Syndrome manages to learn how to love and also overcome some drawbacks of his condition. Now on paper, it sounds like a standard love with a dash of diseaste type of story but it translates well on screen.
A lot of credit goes to Hugh Dancy's acting chops. He wins our hearts over by making Adam's social anxieties relatable. For example, there are a bunch of times in the movie where Adam doesn't know how to react to his girlfriend Beth's (a subpar Rose Byrne) emotional needs. Now even if you are the most well-adjusted human being out there, I'm sure you too have found yourself at odds while dealing with a loved one. Dancy presents Adam's anxieties with a mix of social awkwardness and a nonchalant bemused demeanour. Just like us he wants to help but isn't sure on how to do it.
So every time he comforts Beth, it shows that he's managed to come closer to her. To loving her in the way, that makes him for the lack of a better expression, a more integrated person in our world. As a director, Max Mayer had several ways of showing this. Instead he chooses this neat trick.
This is one of the opening shots of the film. Adam is about to attend his father's funeral. This is his last goodbye to the man whose support saw him lead a comfortable life. He's at the dining table, passively eating his cereal. No signs of discomfort. He's alone here but there's no hint of loneliness.
Then, there's this shot later towards the end. Adam is again at the dining table with cereal. Except this time, things have changed. He's broken up with Beth. He is really alone now. Without his father, he found a way to get by but he didn't grow out of his shell. He didn't try to make new friends or create his own simulacrum of family.When Beth came along, he learnt to love. He saw how good could life be and now that he's lost her he's a little worse for the wear. He knows that the people who enable him love him but enabling someone isn't the same as loving someone. Spoiler alert - Beth leaves him because he wants her to move with him to California for a job. All his reasons are practical, he needs her to help him out. He loves her alright, but mostly because she enables him. And this simple truth prompts Adam to turn his life around. To see that he needs to live without Beth to possibly show Beth that he can love her unconditionally and in some way, learn to love himself. Using a near identical shot and juxtaposing it with the inner journey of a character is a real smooth move. And, Adam, dear readers is a real nice watch.