Dir: Gerard Stembridge. UK. 1999. 105 mins.
Prod Co: Venus, HAL Films, Miramax Films. Int'l sales: Miramax International. Prods: Anna Devlin, Marina Hughes. Exec prods: Harvey Weinstein, David M Thompson, David Aukin, Trea Leventhal. Scr: Gerard Stembridge. DoP: Bruno De Keyser. Prod des: Fiona Daly. Ed: Mary Finlay. Mus: Adrian Johnston. Main cast: Stuart Townsend, Frances O'Connor, Charlotte Bradley, Kate Hudson, Rosaleen Linehan, Alan Maher.
An eager-to-please romantic romp, About Adam finds writer-director Gerard Stembridge aiming to become the Irish Almodovar but falling short of the mark. Whilst certainly original and quite intriguing, the film fails to find a consistent tone and veers between frantic and languid. A structure that revisits the same events from multiple perspectives adds to the longueurs but the game cast and bright moments might still secure it a following.
Like Anne Baxter's Eve Harrington in All About Eve, Stuart Townsend's Adam is calculating in his desire to be all things to all people. The film charts his impact on one family as he proceeds to charm the pants off of everyone in sight. To woo Lucy (Hudson) he is shy and bashful, allowing her to take the lead. He wins her bookish, hopelessly romantic sister Laura (O'Connor) by appearing as dark and mysterious as a figure from 19th century literature. Married sister Alice (Bradley) is more cynical but made to feel desirable by his constant flattery. He even endears himself to their younger brother by providing him with lessons in love.
As played by Townsend, Adam is sex on legs with a smile that could melt a thousand hearts. However, as a character, Adam remains an elusive man of mystery, his motivation explained merely as some selfless desire to bring pleasure into people's lives. Anyone expecting more substantial revelations will be disappointed.
A Dublin of bustling nightspots, trendy galleries and busy health clubs provides the kind of modern European setting that underlines the Almodovar connection. About Adam lacks the flair and clockwork precision to withstand the comparison. The section with Laura is tiresomely overwrought and overall the film is just never as funny as it promised to be.