Anyone would envy the title character of About Adam his seductive talents and adaptable charm, not to mention his copious free time. The boy’s 24-7 pro bono occupation consists of bewitching the variously addled members of an Irish brood: sweet, foxy Lucy (Kate Hudson), a nightclub chanteuse who promptly proposes to her swain; tightly wound Victorian-lit student Laura (Frances O’Connor), who’s madly jealous of Lucy and eager to bed her cutie boyfriend; sour Alice (Charlotte Bradley), who’s bored and disgusted with her husband; and brother David (Alan Maher), a sloth who’s drowning in the family estrogen. (The script offers no clear reason why all these grown, bickersome children spend so much time together at their mother’s place.) Adam (Stuart Townsend) subtly molds his personality to fit and flatter his target’s given pathologies, and only hopeless David seems to mind, though he’s the sole flower in this Dublin branch of the Garden of Eden that Adam leaves unplucked. (And yet, quoth Dave: “You screwed my girlfriend and turned me into a homosexual. I might as well kill myself.” Go for it!)
Gerard Stembridge’s bloodless, meandering tale is told four ways in flashback, from the siblings’ overlapping perspectives. The oppositional narratives are the director’s Kurosawa/Tarantino flourish, though he’s deep in Pasolini country: Terence Stamp cranked through every member of an Italian clan in 1968’s Teorema (and Sandra Bernhard did her best to match him several years ago in the Australian Dallas Doll). Hudson is ebullient, never cutesy, and her accent stays in tune, but Lucy’s just Penny Lane with a brogue; the rest of the cast are either glum or grotesque. (Shot two years ago and victim since to endless release-date shufflings, the film belatedly capitalizes on Hudson’s It Girl status.) About Adam squanders its potential themes: the performative element of courtship, the wish-fulfilling selectivity of memory, the resilience of sibling bonds. The wicked elder sisters, indeed, play Goneril and Regan to Lucy’s Cordelia until the last possible second; ignorance is bliss, and all’s well that ends well.