ase-of-the-week TV movie level instead of elevating it into something memorable.
Adam Raki (Hugh Dancy, "The Jane Austen Book Club") is a 29-year old man who's lived with his dad since his mother died 20 years ago. The two have been best friends " in fact, with the exception of Harlan (Frankie Faison, "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist"), Mr. Raki was Adam's only friend. Adam has Asperger's, a developmental condition that, among other things, makes social interaction almost impossible. He is very literal, taking everything that's said to him at face value. He can neither lie nor recognize even little white lies that are said to him.
As the movie opens, he is attending his father's funeral. Harlan worries silently about the young man who will now have to live alone. Harlan is also a bachelor, yet there is no discussion of the two guys rooming together. That sensible solution would be inconvenient for the plot.
One day, Adam goes to the basement of his New York brownstone apartment building and meets new tenant Beth Buchwald (Rose Byrne, "Knowing"), an elementary school teacher who finds him incredibly shy and reclusive, but possible relationship material. His odd hesitancy is explained by his condition, and she finds his direct innocence charming.
Their budding romance begins to fray around the edges when Adam is fired from his job as an electrical engineer working with microchips, and her accountant father (Peter Gallagher, TV's "The OC") gets indicted. The movie has only been skating along the edge of pure melodrama up to this point. Now it goes sailing out into space.
Adam finds out that Beth told a little lie " she pretends that her parents ran into them at the theater by accident, when the meeting was planned " and he flies into a rage. Then she becomes angry with his lack of understanding of her emotional reaction to her dad's dilemma.
The movie's ending is bittersweet, but essentially, the main characters get what they need, if not what they want or we want for them.
Would the movie be encouraging to someone with Asperger's? Yes, if that person can function as well as Adam can. Not many people with the condition could be electrical engineers. I could see someone with no prior knowledge of the syndrome coming out of the theater thinking, "Hell, the guy is just too shy. He needs to get out more." But there's more to it than that.
Acting honors go to Dancy in the title role. His is not the kind of shtick performance you so often get from an actor presenting a character with a problem like this, which demonstrates the understanding that Asperger's is not a form of retardation, but high-functioning autism. If the movie encourages people to find out more about this recently diagnosed condition, it's done better as pop psychology than as pop entertainment."Doug Bentin