Review: Adam (2019 Sundance Film Festival)

Title: Adam
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Rhys Ernst
Starring: Nicholas Alexander, India Menuez, Margaret Qualley
Runtime: 1 hr 35 mins

What It Is: Set in 2006 17-year-old Adam (Alexander) is spending his last summer vacation with his sister Casey (Qualley). Casey introduces him to the LGBTQ scene in New York. When he meets lesbian Gillian (India Menuez) he becomes smitten. Gillian assumes he is transmale. In reality, Gillian made an assumption, one Adam never corrected. As the two begin a summer romance will the truth come out about Adam and his actual cis nature or will he simply allow the lies to pile up?

What We Think: This film feels fresh and distinctive and director Ernst is the right person to tell this story honestly. Sadly the narrative and acting aren’t all that great and the beats tend to be far more predictable then they need to be. If this director weren’t trans himself I could see where an uproar at the subject matter itself. Instead, it is handled intelligently and with understanding and grace. That is a highlight of what the film does do. Even if narratively speaking it leaves you cold and somewhat perplexed by it’s nature as a whole.

Our Grade: C-, Not the worst film at the fest by far it also will never be confused for the best. This lays towards the mediocre from the festival. One thing is certain Rhys Ernst understood Ariel Schrag material and adapted in a way that felt pretty good in a theater setting. Do I recommend this one? Slightly. Some might find a few chuckles here but the lessons its hopes to teach. Those about tolerance and acceptance are some that everyone needs to hear. That some need a reminder about. I think this is a cast that could feature some future stars in it.

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