'I'M not Forrest Gump," says Adam when his first girlfriend, Beth, gives him a box of chocolates in a perhaps unconscious acknowledgement that the hero of Max Mayer's bittersweet romantic drama is different.
"Adam" centers on a twentysomething Manhattanite with Asperger's -- a high-functioning form of autism characterized by obsessions and repetitions (a la "Rain Man"), socially inappropriate behavior and a severe lack of empathy for other people.
These are formidable, and possibly insurmountable, obstacles for Adam and Beth.
She comes into his life as a neighbor at a crucial juncture -- his father has just died, and Adam soon loses his job as an electrical engineer because of his perfectionism.
Beth is alternately frightened and attracted to a man unable to filter his feelings through social niceties and given to occasional outbursts.
What could have been a mawkish Lifetime movie is transformed by sensitive work by the English actor Hugh Dancy as Adam and the Australian Rose Byrne as Beth, sporting convincing New York accents -- as well as Frankie Faison as Adam's father figure.
Beth is simultaneously going through another crisis -- her accountant father (Peter Gallagher) has been charged with fraud.
He and Beth's mother (Amy Irving) are torn between sympathy for Adam and concern for their daughter.
Adam's particular obsession is astronomy -- and the movie's most magical sequences have him sharing his enthusiasm with Beth.
But will Beth -- a teacher who aspires to be a children's book author -- be able to put her own needs on hold to become in many ways Adam's caretaker?
The beautifully crafted "Adam" offers no pat or easy answers to those wrenching questions.