Adam Resurrected

Adam Resurrected


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Adam Stein (Jeff Goldblum) was once a happy man, a caring father and a loving husband. For most of his life he was a highly regarded star of the Berlin vaudeville scene. A popular performer, entertainer and clown he entertained anyone and everyone who came to see him. Thirty years on he is the shell of his former self, a broken man who sees no future for himself, haunted by a past which drains him of the will to live.

He cannot forget his time spent in a concentration camp ruled by the sadistic commandant Klein (Willem Dafoe), who quite literally forced him to behave like a dog, its these horrific memories that he still carries with him to this day. He lives in a sanatorium with other Holocaust survivors, which is located in the desert in the middle of nowhere in Israel, these days the act still continues as he tries desperately to black out his pain by bringing joy to others around him doing magic tricks and telling jokes.

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Having spent time in the concentration camp Adam has lost all faith in human beings until one day when a new arrival appears oblivious to him. This new patient is a 12-year-old boy who believes he is a dog. He can't walk, never speaks only barks and gets by on all fours. The young boy's behaviour causes a change in Adam, a man filled once with incredible anger now shows signs of care and concern, together they both learn from each other and rediscover themselves what life truly is all about.

The characters in this film suffer torment and pain, much like the audience. Never have I been so bored with a film as early as half an hour into it, within the hour at least five people got up and left. The movie serves as a journey for its main protagonist, Adam - played admirably by Goldblum - but it takes an eternity to get there, while his scenes with Dafoe are laughable, especially when he is acting like a dog and bonding with the commandants Alsatian. Dafoe is an actor whose past performances I have enjoyed immensely but here I felt his appearance was merely as a favour to director Schrader with whom he has worked on a number of films. This is by no means a showcase for his talents.

The film's only real redeeming feature are the scenes between Adam and the boy, though even these feels a little forced, given the film's subject matter. The press material and marketing buzz suggests this is a film that will stay with you for a while and is a piece of film-making that you have never seen before, frankly, its a piece of work that I wouldn't want to see anytime soon again.

The pace was incredibly slow, the look was visually uninspiring and I found the whole experience excruciating. Schrader was once the force behind some revolutionary movies as a writer and has had some moderate success with Affliction and Auto Focus but Adam Revisited is unfortunately not his ticket back to the big time.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2009
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A vaudeville star - forced in a concentration camp to act like a dog - is haunted by his past.
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Director: Paul Schrader

Writer: Yoram Kaniuk, Noah Stollman

Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi, Ayelet Zurer, Moritz Bleibtreu, Joachim Krol, Juliane Köhler

Year: 2008

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: Germany, US, Israel


BIFF 2009

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