Adam still pedals on is lonely bike ride in my mind..
Ray Riddle | Winter Haven, FL | 01/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
" I first read this book when I was in the 7th grade. I didn't understand it all then, because there are a lot of levels to the story. I so identified with Adam, felt so alone, felt all this stuff inside me, wanted to be a writer and kept a journal full of what was in my head, felt like screaming and screaming and never stopping. I'd read the book twice, I think, when I chanced upon the movie late one night on cable more than 20 years ago. I was with a friend, and couldn't really let myself go into the movie like I wanted, but remembered liking it, and especially the punch (you'll know what I'm talking about if you see the movie). I spent years looking for a copy, and finally found a VHS copy, which I promptly ordered.
When it showed up, I took the TV and the VCR and set them up in my bedroom and sat on my bed in the corner to watch it. This was such a personal story to me, I wasn't going to share that first watching with anyone. It was...very very well done. The story has changed slightly from the book, especially the parts with Amy, but I was glad to see them. I'd have loved it being just like the book, of course, but the changes made, kind of give Adam an "adolescent growing up" feel. The soundtrack is very subdued, but perfect. Violin, Oboe, Cello, I'm not sure which is used, but it's about the only instrument used through much of the film, and it really adds that touch of loneliness, of being so alone, especially on Adam's bike ride. There's a bit of music that plays at times throughout that mimics part of "The Farmer in the Dell" that has stayed with me all these years, as Adam, eternally riding his father's bike on that lonely ride to Monument in my head. They both play together in my mind.
Robert MacNaughton, who played Elliot's older brother in "E.T.", was the perfect Adam. I've seen several different covers for the book, one of which shows a boy, who looks to be about 8 years old at the most, in some kind of prison cell or something similar. And while the feel of the cover captures the essence of the book, the boy is far too young. Robert MacNaughton is just the right age and does such a great job in this, you have to wonder why his acting career never took off. As I'm watching this, he IS Adam. It's like there isn't any acting involved. Someone followed Adam around with a camera filming his life, and released it as a movie.
Some people talk about the cold relationship he and Doctor Brint have, how unrealistic it is, and thus makes a poorer movie. I disagree completely. For Adam's part, all that has happened to him, though he can remember only parts of it, have lead him to be distrustful of anybody in authority (in fact, that was the theme of Cormier's book, man versus government/authority and how man ultimately loses), and Brint is certainly an authority figure, and one who seems to be trying get specific things out of Adam, all the while trying to help him. There's at least one scene where Brint is asking him specific questions and Adam starts to get paranoid and asks repeatedly to end the session. So it's no surprise Adam doesn't warm up completely to Doctor Brint. And as for Brint's part, he knows, ultimately, what is going to happen to Adam once he gets all the information his superiors are wanting, and thus I can easily see him not wanting to get close to this particular patient. Part of him just wants to think of Adam as a tool, so when the eventual end happens, it won't affect him emotinally, but another part of him is still the doctor, wanting to help, and can't distance himself completely. Which is why, at the end of the movie, he does nothing when he sees Adam through the window, on his bike, riding near the van.
The only actor I had problems with was Adam's father (Don Murray), who gives a completely wooden performance in this, which is surprising considering I've seen him do a fine job in other movies, like "Quarterback Princess," and "Peggy Sue Got Married."
This has the feel of a low-budget movie, but that very feel works to its benefit. More money, a slicker production, would have taken away from the essence of the movie, that core feeling that runs through both the movie and the book.
The movie begins with Adam waking up, putting on his coat and picking up a wrapped package, and starting off on his bike. It switches after a bit to Adam in a room, meeting Doctor Brint. It switches back and forth between the bike ride and the psychiatric sessions with Brint, and scenes from Adam's life as Brint helps him to remember them. The bike ride is not uneventful, but always lonely, even when other people are encountered. The music meshes perfectly with the scenes, and once the movie is over, you find yourself thinking about all the different levels to this story. The book has them all, but the movie really helps to bring them out. The endings are different between the movie and the book, but unlike most book-to-movie adaptations, I don't mind. After years of living with the book, and that ride, and those sessions, in my head, I needed the ending the movie gave me.
I highly recommend watching the movie and reading the book, most especially to those not yet adults, but to people of all ages. It is a tale that makes you think, that makes you feel, and doesn't just provide an hour and a half of entertainment easily forgotten when the next movie is on. This one will stay with you for a very long time, if not forever.
I gave the movie 5 stars because it's better than 4. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate a 9, but that doesn't quite break down to 4 of 5."
Based on Robert Cormier's young adult novel
desolatemm | northern,new jersey | 10/31/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Based on young adult author, Robert Cormier's chilling 1970's classic. You simply have to read the book to understand, and feel this story. I read the book in 9 th grade and was disturbed for days! About a year later I saw the movie in the video store, rented it, and dubbed it. The suspense of the book is better. Anyway... Elliot's brother from "E.T." plays young Adam Farmer, or is he? Adam goes on a mental and physical journey, more mental, to discover his true identity.The book's confusing enough, but you have to be glued to the tv to follow this movie. Not a bad movie, more for teens, certainly heavy though. I get that Adam's father was involved in some illegal activity, hence the family lives on the run. I don't want to give the movie away... Watch the movie, then read the book, or vice versa, but you SHOULD read the book. Trust me. Not a Friday night movie by any means, but worth a look for curiosity's sake. A little out dated now. Robert Cormier has a bit part as a news editor. Released in theaters for a sort time, then quickly went to video. If this movie was made now, it could be better.Cormier was against making this a movie from the start."
INDEPENDENT YOUNG ADULT SUSPENSE
Guy De Federicis | east of here | 07/28/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Although highly regarded as a superb independent film from many qualified sources including The New York Times, I found this rare, hard-to-find video to be lacking in substance and heavy on uninvolved emotional suspense. Intended primarily for a adolescent audience and derived from a popular juvenile fiction novel, it tells the story of a 15 year-old boy who struggles to learn his true identity. Given the youthful audience it targets, it is at least unconventional film-making and a think-piece for young minds who would enjoy a more intellectual slice of drama. For all it's youthfullness though, it is a dark and grim plotline and adults may be troubled by the lead character's predicament and psychological well-being. Apparently there's something here that young teenagers will absorb. Robert Wagner is very stiff and lifeless in the role of the boy's psychiatrist and Hope Lange plays an incidental character even less significant than her role as the doomed wife of Charles Bronson in "Death Wish". If nothing else, "I Am The Cheese" is unique."