‘Adam’ Review: A Comedy of Genders

The straight teenage protagonist of the romantic comedy “Adam” is dealt a lot of lucky breaks over the course of this often charming and occasionally aggravating coming-of-age story. But Adam’s first jackpot comes in the opening minutes when his cool older sister, Casey (Margaret Qualley), invites him to stay with her for the summer. Casey is a lesbian living in New York, where she flits among her many queer friends in political protests and sex clubs.

Adam (Nicholas Alexander) is open to learning about Casey’s community, but his learning curve gets a lot steeper when he meets Gillian (Bobbi Salvör Menuez), a cute lesbian who takes a liking to him. Based on the company he keeps, Gillian assumes Adam is a trans man; he doesn’t correct her. Instead, he commits to a lie, pretending to be trans to hold on to his dream girl.

This comedy of errors was first cooked up as a book by Ariel Schrag, who adapted it as her own screenplay. The director Rhys Ernst, who is trans, makes a significant contribution to the story by drawing attention to the way queer people read gender in faces, fashion and bodies. Ernst uses lighting and camera angles to highlight the androgyny of Adam’s soft face, which emphasizes the similarities between cisgender and trans masculinity. Here, it is Adam’s gender that is presented for the audience’s scrutiny, a welcome twist on the surveillance that trans people frequently face in public.

But as thoughtful as “Adam” is in presenting a fluid read of gender, the movie’s sweetness curdles as its trans characters (and by extension, the trans actors who portray them) are called on to welcome Adam into a community that he willfully manipulates. “Adam” is a movie that tackles big ideas about queerness and comes out looking confused — making it an experience that frustrates even as it tries to endear.


Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes.


When you purchase a ticket for an independently reviewed film through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

Movie data powered by IMDb.com

Source: Read Full Article