Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None stated.
TRYING to summarise the plot of the wickedly funny new film from
the Being John Malkovich
team is enough to trigger a dose of severe writers block
- especially since it is a plight suffered by the main character
But Adaptation is that type of film; a wildly inventive and ridiculously
surreal movie about the film industry which functions on so many
levels that it is sometimes difficult to keep up.
Nicolas Cage stars as mixed-up screenwriter Charlie Kaufman,
a sexually frustrated loner who is given the task of adapting
Susan Orleans non-fiction novel, The Orchid Thief, for the
As he attempts to honour the books true story - that of
Florida-based plant dealer, John Laroche (Chris Cooper) and his
relationship with both Meryl Streeps inquisitive novelist
[Orlean] and the rare orchids he continually searches for - Kaufman
becomes beset by loathing and self-doubt, triggering a mental
breakdown which prompts him to place himself in the subsequent
Added to his anxiety is the presence of his fictional twin brother
(also played by Cage), a more successful version of Charlie, who
is attempting to write his own, more mainstream screenplay, and
who constantly asks his brother for help.
And thats just the tip of the iceberg, although to reveal
too much more would be giving too much away. Suffice to say, that
the ensuing couple of hours is a demented mind-trip through one
guys personal torment which manages to inspire, raise questions
about life in general and knock Hollywood, all at the same time.
The final third of the film, in particular, is a deliberately
over-the-top piss-take out of blockbuster convention, which only
serves to heighten the enjoyment of what has come before.
Needless to say, Cage delivers his best two performances in ages,
shuffling nervous energy like never before and displaying a nice
line in self-depreciating humour - his voice-overs, in particular,
are a constant treat, while many of the situations he finds himself
in drift into the farcical and become hilarious as a result.
Undoubtedly, there are those who will probably dismiss Adaptation
as a load of self-indulgent tosh, or as a smug and overly-clever
attempt to poke fun at just about everything. And they are entitled
to their opinion.
Yet it remains a refreshingly incisive comedy, the type of which
comes along all too rarely. The real-life Kaufman (yes, you read
that right) is now one of the most sought-after screenwriters
in the industry (witness Being John Malkovich and the upcoming
Confessions of a Dangerous
Mind) and it is easy to see why; he seldom resorts to the
obvious unless it is to poke fun at it.
But Spike Jonze, the director, is also be applauded for transforming
such a complex narrative into something so breezy, while his ability
to coax terrific performances from any cast is now without question
- aside from Cage, both Streep and Cooper have also been Oscar-nominated.
This is a blast from start to finish and one well worth seeing
twice to catch what you may have missed the first time.