A young boy is left on his own to scour the country in search of his father in Irving Franco’s dramatic feature, Adam the First. Adam (Oakes Fegley) is a 14-year-old boy living off-the-grid with his mother, Mary (Kim Jackson Davis), and father, James (David Duchovny). One morning, while hunting, Adam runs into a stranger, asking him if he needs help. It’s a question Adam finds suspicious as it is related to his current family situation.
That night, after dinner, Adam’s home is attacked by a squad of men, killing Mary and James and leaving Adam to fend for himself. The last words James gives Adam in a note is a confession that he is not Adam’s real father but a man named Jacob Waterson.
As Jacob Waterson is a common name, James’ note lists three addresses of the men who could be his father—a felon, a farmer, and an artist. Jacob must employ every survival technique James taught him to survive with little, outrun the law and the bad guys, and find his real father. Along his journey, Adam discovers a friendly yet dangerous world that James had shielded him from all his life.
As Adam meets each of his possible fathers (Larry Pine, Eric Hanson, and Jason Dowies), he sees three possible futures for him as an adult. Or he can simply run away for good.
“As Adam meets each of his possible fathers, he sees three possible futures…”
My first impression of Adam the First is that it’s a coming-of-age story told in the vein of Homer’s Odyssey. There’s also this blending of the real and the surreal akin to the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou.
A great deal of credit needs to go to writer/director Irving Franco. The story could have easily gone awry under less capable hands. Adam the First walks a very thin tightrope in writing, directing, and editing, and any misstep will pull your audience right out of the movie.
The story’s fantastical elements work thanks to the film’s incredible cast of veteran character actors playing the Jacobs against the already accomplished star Oakes Fegley. Adding to the storytelling is the beautiful backroads of Mississippi to tell its somewhat modern Southern story.
Again, there is this tightrope walk of a story going on. Considering that the character Adam is 14 years old, there’s a sweet longing that Fegley gives his character. Adam is the epitome of coming-of-age as he is faced with choices that will shape and define him as a person based primarily on the right and wrong choices he makes along the way.
Adam the First is ultimately a story of finding one’s home. While living on the run with the couple he thought was his family, Adam the First explores what it means to be a family from the perspective of an outsider desperately wanting to find the truth.
"…a coming-of-age story told in the vein of Homer's Odyssey."