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(500) Days of Summer with Adam August 25, 2009

Posted by Alichat in Life, Movies.
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Abby says that we go to the movies to escape reality not to experience it.  To an extent, that is true.  The popularity of Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow’s movies prove Abby’s declaration.  But, the success of biographies, true stories, and historical dramas does say otherwise.  I think where we don’t want reality is in our romantic comedies.  From Roman Holiday to Pretty In Pink to Bridget Jones’ Diary to Twilight, audiences want to get lost in the idea that with a little luck and some spunk, love will win out in the end between the lovestruck young woman and her dashing suitor.  Monday night I saw a sneak peek of Adam starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne.  The movie is the story of the relationship between Adam, a 29 year old with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Beth, his lovely new neighbor.  It’s one of two movies in theatres this summer that’s a bit of the anti-romantic comedy.  The second film, (500) Days of Summer, which unfolds the relationship between Tom and Summer, even opens with the narrator announcing “This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story.”

Oddly, both movies while different in many ways, are alot alike.  This didn’t truly hit me until I was driving home tonight trying to figure out how I felt about the ending to Adam.  I sat in the theatre as the credits rolled by trying to figure this out, discussed it in the car with Abby, and then ran it through my head on the way home.  As Mere says, I need to mull it over.  For the record, I’m happy with the ending.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it makes sense and was a ‘what could be’ ending.

I’ll try not to give away too much about the plots, as that is a huge pet peeve of mine.  But both movies are about falling in love…..about wanting what you don’t need……and about is it ‘not right’ or not the right time.  How romance can be risky, scary, and liberating.  But mostly, they’re about letting go.  Letting go of that fear, that want, or that shield which we hide behind using as a rationalization for not growing and experiencing life.   Both are sweet and heartwarming at times, sad and heartbreaking at others.  Ironically, both take place over about a 16 month period.  And both end with a ‘could be’ ending.  As in the story could be continuing here, or could be continuing there.

A big difference between the two is the humor, which is much more prevalent in (500) Days of Summer.  Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, it’s funny and quirky with visual and literal humor.  It also has a great soundtrack!  In Adam, Hugh Dancy is the title character living with Asperger’s Syndrome, a development disorder similar to autism.  This Syndrome, which deals with a lack of inborn social skills, could have been used by the filmmakers to inject more humor into the story.  Thankfully they didn’t.  Dancy does a wonderful job portraying Adam’s social ackwardness and confusion without becoming a caricature.  Rose Byrne is understated as Beth, and both are supported by a strong cast including Amy Irving, Peter Gallagher, and Frankie Faison.

I suppose I should say these are offbeat romantic comedies, instead of anti romantic comedies.  A closer description would be that they are realistic romantic comedies.  However, it should be noted that while neither ended as I had hoped, neither left me wanting or disappointed.

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