IT'S POSSIBLE for a work of art to be too personal: to be so tailored and shaped by the specific experiences of its creator that it becomes inaccessible to a general audience. Such is the case with local filmmaker Andy Blubaugh's soul-searching The Adults in the Room, an interrogation of Blubaugh's high-school relationship with a much older man.
Adults is a movie about the making of a movie. At its core is a dramatization of Blubaugh's teenaged affair; surrounding this slight story is documentary footage of the now-adult Blubaugh discussing his past relationship, worrying over whether the film will affect his job teaching screenwriting to teenagers, and writing and casting the dramatization itself. (The Sam Adams/Beau Breedlove sex scandal is touched on as well, though it adds little and isn't particularly well contextualized.)
Scenes of a high-school aged Blubaugh (portrayed with assurance by Calvin McCarthy) sneaking around with an older guy are both disturbing and revealing. Andy is needy, risk-taking, bright, deluded—a teenager, in other words, and his too-brief storyline offers a rarely seen look at a not-uncommon dynamic between gay teens and older men. The attendant documentary-style introspection, though, never really goes anywhere. Despite the undeniable bravery with which Blubaugh addresses his own past, the film itself is emotionally circumspect, nervously showing all of the seams of a story instead of just telling it. As Blubaugh mulls over his past, it becomes clear that he has heaps of baggage about the relationship—including being singled out as a talented, promising teenager who may or may not be living up to all of that promise these days—but without actually knowing Blubaugh personally, the stakes of all that soul searching are dismally low.