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About Adam

Written and Directed by Gerard Stembridge

Cast: Stuart Townsend, Kate Hudson, Frances O’Connor, Charlotte, Bradley, Rosaleen Linehan, Tommy Tiernan, Alan Maher.

Meet Adam (Stuart Townesend): he’s a successful photographer; he’s impossibly handsome; he lives in a spacious, tastefully minimalist-furnished apartment in Temple Bar; he drives a classic Jag; he makes up stories about himself willy-nilly; he can do shy, sensitive and caring with the girls, and he’s still good for a cut-the-macho-bravado heart-to-heart with the lads (not that he doesn’t know his football too, mind); in short, as they used to say when pitching in Tinseltown, ‘Women like him, men want to be like him’. You should hate him on sight, but you can’t. He’s a charmer.
You wouldn’t believe what happens when he meets, one by one, the Ownes sisters. First there’s Lucy (Kate Hudson), the blonde, ditzy, willowy, singer/waitress, who’s had loads of boyfriends, but never a grand passion. Then there’s Laura (Frances O’Connor), the nervy, thesis-writing, quiet one, who knows more about grand passions from books than from personal experience, much like the Victorian women writers with whom she empathises. Finally (in reverse chronological order), there’s Alice (Charlotte Bradley), who’s comfortably but boringly married to Martin (Brendan Dempsey), and brings a more grown-up, world weary, suburban vacuity, Hello-reading perspective to things. Let’s not forget their brother David (Alan Maher), who also gets in on the action, when Adam rather unconventionally helps him sort out his girlfriend trouble with Karen (Cathleen Bradley). These are all mothered, lovingly, by the widowed Peggy (Rosaleen Linehan), in true close-knit happy families style, in a more winning reprise of her role in Trish McAdam’s Snakes and Ladders. Also worth a mention is Simon (Tommy Tiernan), Lucy’s ex, who sports what her hairdresser describes as a ‘shag me or I might kill myself’ look.




To reveal too much of the plot would spoil the fun, but through judicious use of multiple voice-overs and scenes repeated at various points throughout from different characters’ perspectives, the story unfolds and the ensemble are lent depth, even the initially rather empty cypher that is the gentleman featured in the title slowly revealing his motivation.
What sets this movie apart is that up until now, pretty much all attempts to portray Irish people as sexy and modern on screen have failed miserably and look merely risible, the earnest, self-conscious staining after sophistication defeating the purpose, covering up a more serious and worrying lack of self-confidence, and coming off like little sisters dressing up in their big sisters’ clothes, or Mama’s boys trying to make like men of the world. We have protested too much. Those Corrs, for example, may look great, but they are hardly paradigms of raw, naked desire. Clothes horses aren’t sassy, which plays its part in being sexy. But here, it’s effortless, due not only to the girls and the tight script, but to Stuart Townsend’s understated performance in a role that will surely propel him to international stardom. Adam is loveable.
Sure, you could argue that Temple Bar doesn’t look this glossy in real life, and there isn’t a marauding stag or hen party puking its guts up in sight, but that’s a bit like criticising one of Woody Allen’s paeans to Manhattan because the streets there actually usen’t to be very clean, and rents were, and still are, high. Similarly, the more ideologically driven ladies may take issue with the portrayal of the female characters, with lines like Alice’s ‘He thinks what you need is a good shag. Trouble is, it might be true.’ perhaps rankling. But you should check your feminism, along with your Marxism, at the door, if you want to enter into the spirit of the proceedings. And finally, to dismiss summarily another possible negative reading, while there is always an element of cosying up to the native audience in the use of familiar locations, Eden restaurant (Where Lucy meets Adam - geddit?), the National Library, Brown Thomas and The Winding Stairs Bookshop all look good here to me.
With photography by the always excellent Bruno de Keyzer, and an apposite Gershwin/Porter/Berlin soundtrack, this has classic written all over it (and that’s not just the car). It also marks a defining moment in the growth to emotional maturity (if that’s not too boring a concept to introduce in this context) of indigenous Irish cinema. It’s an exuberant and exhilarating experience, much like Adam’s sex life, high on the feel good factor, and gives short shrift to any residual angst lying around. “We all need to have secrets,” as Adam tells Lucy, not wanting to pry into hers. Just lie back and enjoy it.

First published in Film Ireland









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