×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlin Film Review: ‘Adam’

Maria Solrun's second feature is a showcase for the thesping talents of her son, in his first leading role.

Director:
Maria Solrun
With:
Magnus Mariuson, Eszter Tompa, Floriane Daniel, Julia Kratz, Hans Brückner, Gabo Hoog, Matthias Renner, Liina Magnea. (German, English dialogue)

1 hour 12 minutes

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt7076838/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_1

The rash request that an irresponsible mother makes of her naïve, hearing-impaired, teenage son forms the loose focus of low-budget indie drama “Adam,” the brief second feature by Iceland-born, Berlin-based writer-helmer Maria Solrun (“Jargo”), who also produces. Too many script holes make this Berlin-set, family-crafted production more of a mood piece than the poignant, provocative tale it might have been. Nevertheless, it succeeds as a showcase for the thesping talents of the helmer’s athletic son (a producer as well), who essays the eponymous lead. Further fest play should follow.

Despite a terrible haircut and even worse dress sense, blonde, blue-eyed Adam (Magnus Mariuson) is a handsome lug who has no trouble scoring dates on Tinder and converting them into the occasional roll in the hay, even though he doesn’t speak aloud to the ladies involved. Rather, he’s a lip-reader who communicates with sign language, various electronic devices and sometimes old-fashioned pencil and paper. Audiences, however, are privy to his articulate, voiceover musings about his relationship with his now-institutionalized mother (Floriane Daniel), a former rock musician who has suffered irreversible brain damage due to alcoholism. Unhappily for the other residents of Adam’s Neukölln apartment building, he frequently plays her caterwauling music loudly; he can’t really hear it, but he can feel the bass line.

It could be that Adam’s mom’s penchant for alcohol and drugs grew from a need to self-medicate; her own mother died after a long institutionalization. But having checked in and out of the loony bin a few too many times, she tries to extract a promise from her son that if she’s ever locked away permanently, he should kill her ASAP.

An exploration of how a disabled young adult could manage financially when the person paying his rent is suddenly out of the picture would seem like a compelling storyline. But Solrun’s film doesn’t really go there. Instead, it obsesses over the mother’s written plea that her son should promise to off her if she loses her independence, a request that Adam takes all too seriously. Sure, the unfair burdens that a parent can place on a child are interesting, too, but here they don’t feel credible. Adam is surviving on instant noodle packages that he orders from the internet. Where does he get the money to finish off mom with an expensive poison? And why isn’t he more concerned when his mother’s social worker (Julia Kratz) tells him that the lease on the apartment has been ended and he’ll have to leave in three months? Although he has always believed that his father (Gabo Hoog) was not interested in him, he learns that his mother actually prevented them from having contact. That’s something that should rock his world and roil his feelings about his mother, but it’s yet another plot element that falls by the wayside.

Shot in summer, the film features intimate, widescreen visuals from DP Joanna Piechotta that are stronger than the narrative. Solrun intercuts the almost documentary-like episodes featuring Adam with glowing sequences from a documentary about underwater Iceland and with footage meant to be of Adam’s mother in her prime (played by Solon’s daughter, Liina Magnea, who, with her partner Haraldur Thrastarson, composed the music).  Other textures come from the muffled sound that mirrors Adam’s hearing and the swimming pool sequences that go with the underwater documentary.

Per press notes, Mariuson, a recent acting school graduate, formed Big Key Film with his mother to develop and produce new feature film projects.

 

Berlin Film Review: 'Adam'

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation 14plus), Feb. 21, 2018. Running time: 72 MIN.

Production: (Germany-Iceland-U.S.-Mexico) A Jim Stark presentation of a Big Key Film, Delba, Starksales production. (International sales: Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía, Mexico City.) Producers: Maria Solrun, Jim Stark, Magnus Mariuson. Executive producers:  Daniela Leyva Becerra Acosta, Andrea Toca.

Crew: Director, writer: Maria Solrun. Camera (color, HD, widescreen): Joanna Piechotta. Editors: Magda Lammert, Valérie Anex. Music: Haraldur Thrastarson, Magnea.  

With: Magnus Mariuson, Eszter Tompa, Floriane Daniel, Julia Kratz, Hans Brückner, Gabo Hoog, Matthias Renner, Liina Magnea. (German, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Peter Rabbit trailer

    Australia Box Office Recovers, Grows 3.8% in 2018

    Gross theatrical box office in Australia grew by 3.6% in 2018, to $890 million (A$1.25 billion). The score was propelled by a rebound in the performance of the top local films. Data from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia published Tuesday showed aggregate cinema revenues recovering after a dip in 2017. While the 2018 [...]

  • Megan Mullally70th Primetime Emmy Awards, Arrivals,

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to

    Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to Promote 'Deadpool 2' in China

    Ryan Reynolds canceled surgery on his arm to fly to China and charm “Deadpool” fans in Beijing on Sunday ahead of the franchise’s unexpected China theatrical debut. Just last week, Fox suddenly announced that a re-cut, PG-13 “Deadpool 2” would hit Chinese theaters starting this Friday – the first time the notoriously blood-splattered and foul-mouthed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content