Adam the First

Adam the First
Adam the First
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This Valentine’s Day, you and your special someone can snuggle up for a quiet indie film that may make you shed a tear or two. The trailer is filled with seasoned actor David Duchovny, but the true star is Oakes Fegley. He’s been in blockbusters like The Fabelmans and Pete’s Dragon, he seems older here in Adam the First casting him as a prankster with a good heart. Perhaps you will enjoy this sweet Mark Twain-esque story that will not change the face of cinema forever, though the performances by several familiar faces are sound and thoughtful, especially if you are used to seeing Duchovny only in his famous roles.

Duchovny is miles away from his Californication character but we still need him on silver screen even for short period of time. His fatherly James who never seems to wear shirts shares with little Adams some big news soon after movie begins. Irving Franco did something clever through this scene; he wrote as well as composed music for his new project. If you have seen Adam the First’s trailer then you already know about James being not Adam’s biological father. You’d expect such revelations to come later so we’re left thinking ‘Alright, what does he do with this bombshell?’

When it really gets going plot-wise, lovers of books may be reminded of Have You Seen Luis Velez?, an acclaimed novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde featuring a boy wandering across his city looking for “Luis Velez”. Some of them are rich enough while others are poor and hoping they fit the bill. Likewise, there are three “Jacobs” listed by young Adam (Fegley) throughout much of this new indie drama who could be any one of his birth parents. Another example would be Jim Jarmusch’s 2005 comedy-drama Broken Flowers where Bill Murray had to find out who wrote the letter first before embarking on a journey to find his son or ex-lover, who could be someone else.

In Adam the First, James’ hidden cottage is invaded by some people in the first act and those familiar with Amazon Studios’ The Marsh King’s Daughter may recognize this sequence as similar to the beginning of that movie starring Daisy Ridley whose character is unknowingly imprisoned in the woods by her dad. It’s like watching Mark Twain’s little odyssey play out across America. See him smoke cigarettes, rob shops, run from police while he moves around several new locations. He is not a perfect child and it is better that way for viewers; thanks to an outstanding performance by Fegley who makes him more realistic and human.

It’s true that the thrill is low-level in this quiet little film, but it does mean that Adam’s journey is an exciting one across diverse locations. He even cradles one of those prison phones and stares into the eyes of a prisoner named Jacob (Eric Hanson) who gets more and more disturbed about why this young man is trying to tell him he is his father. Hanson’s passionate yet sincere performance in this tough little cameo stays with you for long. However, the ‘fun’ does not stop at the prison – Adam befriends some guys from a strip club and also finds himself engaged in a sort of speed-dating event where guests have to make quick pitches about their businesses.

On that note, watch out for possibly its strongest performance of all; at least among the grown-ups: T.R. Knight, MAX subscriber will know him from The Flight Attendant too. He has been featured in many other TV series as well but Adam the First could be his moment to shine as another possible Jacob whom young Adam traces down. No spoilers here but’ s Knight’s understated yet emotionally-stunning moment says volumes about what he can do in future dramatic features . It helps that Fegley keeps up with heavy hitters like him since there are many kids today who over act on set. Unlike such actors, Fegley has all chances of becoming a successful actor in future and Adam the First serves for yet another leading role through which he demonstrates how wide range feelings he can encompass: anger, sorrowfulness, or even some playful humor along the way.

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