Directed by Max Mayer. Starring Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher, Amy Irving, Frankie Faison, Mark-Linn Baker. (2009, PG-13, 99 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Aug. 14, 2009
It’s a time-honored woo, that of boy describing the solar system to some starry-eyed girl. It works on schoolteacher Rose (Byrne), an aspiring storybook writer who is charmed by the glow-in-the-dark wall astronomy chart of her neighbor Adam (Dancy), not to mention his late-night jaunts into Central Park to watch a misfit family of raccoons. “They don’t really belong here,” he confides to Rose, which turns out to be an ungainly and overworked metaphor for Adam, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. (The raccoons will return to do service, for a spot of aggravatingly conventional circularity, in the film’s coda.) Despite the discouragements of her co-workers and family, Rose falls for Adam, embarking on a romance that takes a backseat, before it’s barely begun, to a lawsuit brought against Rose’s father (Gallagher), an oily accountant on trial for some funniness with the books. Title aside, it’s unclear whose film, exactly, writer/director Mayer intends this to be: The point of view shifts without any discernible gain in complexity or understanding of the characters, and with the thinnest of storylines propelling the thing, the points of interest are few and far between, despite the obvious prep work and resultant authenticity of Dancy’s performance. An opening narration from Rose which calls on The Little Prince sets teeth on edge immediately – this is the kind of movie in which every other line of dialogue feels like a metaphor – and from there on, the film seesaws between the uncomfortable extremes of glum and twee: an overwrought dirge keyed to a xylophonic ping.