Adam (2009)

Stuttered Beginnings

I found this to be offensive in that mild way that occurs so often. Storytellers sometimes have to make decisions that cost the viewer something — the worst kind of cheat because it pushes the pain onto the unwitting. Is it a net good to show a newsphoto of a girl over her dying father, if the experience is rich enough? Or maybe it stops one person from driving drunk. Or perhaps there is some strange calculus that exercising emotions in a safe way makes us more capable, resilient. Or maybe the equation is simple: work with this sort of pain sells, and we tolerate emotional exploitation.

It is like overt nudity in films, I suppose. If it is simply a part of life, or if it is part of a construction that matters, why not? In fact, why would anyone avoid it. But here we have simple, albeit tame, emotional voyeurism. It probably has noble intent, and many viewers will think they “understand” better, so this has increased the compassion in the world. But I somehow think that when you cheapen something, we all suffer.

I would ask you to see the first five minutes of this, though. I struggle a bit with what it means to have narrative in film. A common solution is “show, don’t tell”. That is probably not enough to encompass the world of effects and intuitions film can evoke, but it is rare enough by itself.

I came to this thinking that the twist on the Asperger’s would be in the cinematic vision. But no.

The first few moments of this film introduce the title character. Not a word is spoken. No explanatory text appears for us to read. It is truly effective filmmaking, that first five minutes. Then the costs begin.

Posted in 2009

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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