The Being John Malkovich team come up trumps again!

Preview by Jack Foley

THE creative geniuses behind Being John Malkovich - one of the weirdest but cleverest mainstream comedies of recent years - have done it again, with Adaptation, starring Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep.

Partially based on The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean, the film is a typically surreal journey through Hollywood’s studio system, which combines two odd stories in one.

The plot centres around screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Cage) and his attempts to adapt Susan Orlean's nonfiction novel, The Orchid Thief, for the big screen.

As Kaufman tries to work with the book's true story - the tale of John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a Florida plant dealer who works with Seminole Indians to create clones of rare orchids, which he sells to collectors for huge profits - he nearly goes mad.

Enter his fictional twin (also Cage), a more successful version of Charlie, who sets about creating his own agenda.

Needless to say, the critics in America have been falling over themselves in a bid to heap praise on the film, which is also generating a certain amount of Oscar buzz.

This is the second collaboration between screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (yes, you’re reading this correctly!) and director, Spike Jonze, and it is little wonder to find that Being John Malkovich stars, John Cusack and Catherine Keener, also put in an appearance (the characters from Adaptation visit the set!).

But part of the apparent joy of watching the film is how Kaufman and Jonze strive to make something which sounds so complicated (on paper) seem so challenging, yet enjoyable.

And judging from the reaction from the handful of UK critics who have seen the film, the ending is something that is either inspired, or a cop out, but which is certain to provoke much furious debate.

What the US critics thought…


Given what you’ve just read, it is little wonder to find that E! Online referred to it as ‘twisted and brilliant’, before awarding it an A, while Entertainment Weekly felt that ‘it's clearer than ever that [Spike] Jonze can do with picture and performance precisely what [Charlie] Kaufman can do with words’. It awarded the film an A-.

Film Threat awarded it four out of five stars and said that Adaptation is ‘infinitely impractical, consistently unique and vastly imaginative’, while FilmCritic.com described it as ‘a fascinating artist's journey into his own navel, well worth thinking about’.

Referring back to that ambiguous ending, the New York Post said that it was ‘an extraordinarily clever comedy that falters only in the last 20 minutes’, while the New York Times felt that it was ‘one of the slipperiest, most fascinating and, by any sane reckoning, best movies of the year’.

Rolling Stone, meanwhile, declared that ‘few scripts toss more challenging balls in the air, and Jonze juggles them all with artful, light-stepping ease’. ‘It's magic,’ it added, before awarding it a maximum four out of four.

TV Guide felt that Adaptation is ‘one of the best movies Hollywood has ever made about itself’, while Hollywood Reporter was delighted to announce that, ‘following up on their existential black comedy, ‘Being John Malkovich, writer, Charlie Kaufman, and director, Spike Jonze, have one-upped themselves’.

There were some who felt that not everything worked, but even they were loathe to be negative, with People warning that it was ‘almost too clever for its own good’.

And Reel Views, perhaps, sums it up best by concluding that ‘regardless of whether you appreciate the movie or not, it's likely to stay with you’.

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