Adam: Max Mayer’s Dramatic Love Story, Sundance Film Fest 2009 (Dramatic Competition)

Max Mayer’s “Adam,” which world-premieres in the Dramatic Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film fest, is a dramatic love story that explores how much one person can ever really know the feelings of another and the compromises we all make for love.


Mayer directed his first feature film, “Better Living,” starring Roy Scheider, Olympia Dukakis and Edward Hermann, which opened theatrically in 2000. Last year, “Adam,” which is his second feature, was chosen as a winner of the 12th Annual Writers’ Network Fiction and Screenplay Competition.


Hugh Dancy plays Adam, a man who lives alone in the apartment he used to share with his recently deceased father.  His life is very structured — he eats the same dinners every night, goes about his work as an electronic engineer without interruption and regularly visits his Dad’s old friend, Harlan (Frankie Faison)–because he finds it difficult to be with others.  When Beth, (Rose Byrne) an elementary school teacher and aspiring children’s book author, moves into his building, the two become friends of a sort. Gradually Adam’s romantic desires give him the impetus to emerge from his shell.  He manages to his uses his unique, often funny, and sometimes painful social skills to connect in a way he never has before.


Although attracted to Adam, Beth is getting over a bad break-up and wonders to her parents (Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving) if it’s possible to fully trust the person you love.  But with Adam, she’s continually drawn to his gentle unusualness and finds herself wanting to spend more and more time with him, learning the things he’s passionate about, like space exploration and nature, and working with him to open up his world to more experiences and opportunities. With their shared sense of childlike wonder and creativity, they fall in love and together find the strength and compassion to move forward in life.


Max Mayer on Adam


Nearly five years ago I heard an interview on the radio with a young man who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.  As he described how the world seemed to him, his sense of isolation, his desire for relationship, his sense that everyone but him could read each other’s minds, I was deeply moved.


It seemed he was describing not just his own syndrome, but also many of my feelings and the human condition in general. We are all trapped in our own minds and bodies looking out at other people and taking more or less educated guesses about what their experience of life may be.


“Adam” is a love story about a man who has the desire to make a romantic connection without any of the social or emotional skills.  His relationship to Beth is an extreme version of our common dilemma – the need for connection to that which is necessarily strange.


As the world grows smaller and smaller, Adam and Beth’s halting journey hopefully has some wider implications. Different cultures can seem so alien that we come to believe there are qualitative differences between ‘us’ and ‘them.’  The capacity to recognize common humanity across cultures despite old prejudices and new fears may be the only path to survival on this increasingly inter-dependent and competitive planet.


Getting close to Adam, even falling a bit in love with him, argues that the effort to understand the unfamiliar is worth the trouble.  Finally, “Adam” is a defense of the imperfect.  Joy is finding value in the imperfect. It is, after all, all we know.


Director’s Bio


Max Mayer is a Founder and Producing Director of New York Stage and Film, which has presented 24 summer seasons of original plays at the Powerhouse Theatre at Vassar College. 


Mayer has directed over fifty new plays including world or US premieres by writers such as John Patrick Shanley, Lee Blessing, Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, Richard Nelson, George F. Walker and Eric Overmyer.  His productions have opened both Off-Broadway and in regional theatres including Arena Stage, Long Wharf and Steppenwolf in Chicago.  He has also written three produced plays.  For TV, Mayer has directed episodes of NBC’s The West Wing, ABC’s Alias and CBS’s Family Law.