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IN SHORT: Top notch writing in a top of the line concept. [Rated R for language and sexuality. 96 minutes]
Though it is set in Dublin, Ireland, writer/director Gerard Stembridge's About Adam could take place in just about any modern city. It is a sexy and sophisticated story that perfectly sums itself up when one lead character tells the other that, despite any marital vows, secrets should be kept. Secrets, we are told, keep (things) mysterious and sexy. We, of course, know all the secrets that both characters are keeping from each other because we've seen them from the four different points of view. Stembridge's carefully constructed story makes About Adam worth every penny of the ticket price increase that's hitting your local theater about now.
The very lovely and eminently available and playing the field Lucy Owens (Kate Hudson) uses her job as a singing waitress (or waitress who occasionally sings) in a hip Dublin club to set her marks on any new potential Man Of The Week that walks in the door. "MOTW" is the way her bookworm sister Laura (Frances O'Connor) puts it, but there's definitely a bit of friendly competition between the two for who gets the next gold ring. Lucy's inability to commit -- when we first meet her, she's dumping a stand-up comedian named Simon (Tommy Tiernan), and leaves him in tears -- gives an edge to Laura, whose only inability is her consistent failure to get a date in the first place. One evening, while Lucy is singing some old standard, not only do her knees go weak; her predator instinct (as in "I saw him first") kicks in full blast when Adam (Stuart Townshend) walks into the joint. Eve tempted Adam with an apple. All this Adam has to do is smile.
He doesn't do much more, actually. Adam is quiet and unassuming. He won't make the first move on Lucy, telling her flat out that, when the time is right, every decision as to the how and why and where will be hers to make. For Lucy, it's the end all as far as romantic overtures (sic) go. The family all seem to approve of the pairing as well. Besides Laura, who seems surprised that Adam knows a poet she is fond of reading, the family includes older sister Alice (Charlotte Bradley) and her husband, Martin (Brendan Dempsey), brother David (Alan Maher) and widowed mom, Peggy (Rosaleen Linehan).
At a family gathering Lucy rises to give a toast and, fully in keeping with Adam's desire to make the girl have everything the way she wants it, proposes marriage. Adam accepts. That would normally be the end of a plain story, except for the hitch that we're only twenty minutes or so into the running time of writer/director Gerard Stembridge's film. And the fact that Adam and Laura are playing footsie underneath the table when Lucy pops the question.
From that point out, we reboot for Laura's story of a ravenous passion met, and matched, by the physical and intellectual stimulation she gets from the man who has just become her sister's fiancé. Stembridge's script is far more than a simple retelling of the story from the sister's POV. Laura's story weaves in and out, not just on a standard timeline, but linking individual sentences and physical actions that we see in the differing Points of View. Yes, there's more than one. As the film progresses we see similar takes from sister Alice and mother Peggy, all of whom get their piece of Adam.
Ah, someone out there is thinking that this guy Adam is flat out scum, just looking to put notches in his belt for each of the Owens women! Aye, but he's manly scum! And, to paraphrase the soap commercial David "likes him, too..."
No, we're not going to tell you how much or in what way. There's a major giggle of anticipation that comes with the set up to the encounter. Major, and completely in keeping with the sexy and sophisticated comedy for us grownups that we described in our opening statement. About Adam is all that and more. The women run the gamut from innocent to worldly and world-weary, flirtatious to flat out aggressive. Adam is whatever he needs to be as Dublin is his Eden. The filmmaker's intent is to slap the Biblical themes of Temptation and Responsibility upside the head, which is why it is somehow appropriate that the one male who may or may not fall to Adam's charms is named after David, slayer of Goliath.
I better bail before I start sounding like a film student git. Nope, too late. The intercutting of the various POV's threatens to get a bit confusing on an occasion or two, but there's nothing that should scream "continuity flaw" to those who expend brain power looking for such things. That doesn't include us, though we did notice that Kate Hudson has a bit of a problem nailing the Irish accent. It's something you probably wouldn't notice unless you've done sound recording, and the recording work on this film is the one sore point about an otherwise shimmering bit o' sexy splendor.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to About Adam, he would have paid...
Three quarters of the year we suffer through films that exist solely to stoke cappuccino fueled post-viewing analysis by those who prefer the pretentious crap that clutters the arthouse. Once in a while, maybe twice in a year, we'll sit through a movie that deserves to be seen far and wide. A film far better than all the PC junk that forgets to tell a story. About Adam does so with style and humor and sex and fine acting in a clever quartet of identical stories that aren't identical at all. Recommended.
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