Adam Resurrected **1/2
Directed by Paul Schrader
Written by Noah Stollman, based on the nobel by Yoram Kaniuk
Jeff Goldblum as Adam Stein
Willen Dafoe as Commandant Klein
Ayelet Zurer as Gina Grey
Derek Jacobi as Dr. Nathan Gross
Rated R for some disturbing behavior, sexuality, nudity and some language.
There is plenty of unusual and interesting things to watch in Paul Schrader's "Adam Resurrected," the what-feels-like millionth Holocaust film to come out in the last month. The centerpiece of it ends up being Jeff Goldblum, who gets a chance to flex his acting muscles and really delve, both physically and emotionally, into a role that ends up suiting him perfectly.
Goldblum plays Adam Stein, and at the beginning of the film he is captured by the authorities and brought back to an asylum where he has been residing for many years. He quickly adjusts back into his old habits, including his rather torrid affair with Gina Grey, one of the nurses at the residence. He is intriqued by a young boy in the asylum who is kept in a room in the basement, covered with a white sheet and barking like a dog. It brings Adam back to this past, where he was an entertainer captured by the Nazi's and forced to become the "dog" fo Cammandant Klein.
This is probably the most realistic character that Goldblum has played in quite some time, despite giving some good work in "Fay Grim" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," two films that are not strengthened by their realism. But what makes "Adam Resurrected" so interesting is how it is both realistic and over-the-top, and Goldblum's performance is full of charisma and great body language. His return to the aslyum, and the welcome back that he gives to all the residents, is done in one shot, following him as he travels around the main lobby, opening a vent, taking out a bottle of Scotch, and taking a swig. His relationship with Gina is full of the charm that he has while on the stage, and yet during his more disturbed moments where he delves into the past, Goldblum brings humanity to his rather broad and silly character. It's really great work, and deserved to be seen more considering how underrated an actor he is.
But aside from Goldblum's performance, which I cannot gush about any longer, the film does have its strong share of problems, and for that I have to blame director Paul Schrader. Fresh off of last year's "The Walker," another underseen film that boasted great performances and a less than stellar script, and the year before with the unfinished "Dominion," Schrader has come a long way from his more prolific period in Hollywood two decades ago. There are a few scenes of drama, with nuance by Jeff Goldblum, but ruined with over-the-top style from Schrader, including the oddly melodramatic finale which could have been affecting, but was instead a bit ridiculous and laughably bad. The film is consisted of many moments that work, and others that become overwhelmed in their awkwardness. At times watching Goldblum act like a dog earned more laughs than actually being disturbed.
On the whole, "Adam Resurrected" does have its merits, and its worth seeing for some interesting work from Jeff Goldblum. I just wish there wasn't so much awareness behind the camera, with Schrader calling much attention to his style, ruining the overal effect the film should have. It's certainly an underseen work from the year.