Saturday, June 5, 2010

Capsule Review: Adaptation. (2002)

After a successful teaming with Being John Malkovich, Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman re-teamed in a film even more willing to blur the lines between reality and fiction. Nicholas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman, a neurotic screenwriter tangling with some minor success as his script for Being John Malkovich goes into production, as he attempts to adapt Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Thief" into a film. Cage also plays Kaufman's fictional brother Donald, who finds easy success writing formulaic junk featuring twist endings and car chases. The events of the book unfold as the film skirts around in time - we witness Orlean (played by Merryl Streep) develop a relationship with Orchid hunter John Laroche (the amazing Chris Cooper) - and things become intertwined in the final third where all the parties finally come together. An amusing, and occasionally mind-bending meditation on reality and the difficulty of creation, Adaptation manages to work almost despite itself - thanks to clever direction and some terrific performances. Kaufman would explore some of these themes again in his directorial debut Synecdoche, New York.

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