Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Rented Adaptation on DVD from Movietrak the other day. It's one of those films that's almost too clever to be really laugh-out loud funny, but I found it pretty absorbing until the final third when things went a little haywire. The plot's a little too over the place to describe succinctly but features Nicolas Cage as twin screenwriters Charlie and Donald Kaufman (Charlie Kaufman being of course the name of the film's real-life scribe) - Charlie has an intuitive approach to his writing but is struggling to adapt a non-fiction piece about an orchid thief, while the less uptight Donald is a disciple of pompous story-guru Robert McKee (played by a superbly-cast Brian Cox). Can they put aside their differences and fuse their yin and yang to deliver the blockbuster hit they sorely crave?

For the most part, the film is as surreal and complex as previous Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman effort Being John Malkovich but while one of the joys of that debut was the way the script held its nerve and maintained its own perverse anti-logic to a satisfactory conclusion, Adaptation degenerates into ham-fisted absurdity to escalate its plot to climax. The joke presumably being that the film is being dictated by the more sensationalist tenets of McKee in the same way that Donald helps the film-within-the-film to success, but it's a fatally dumb move for an otherwise clever and fascinating piece of work. Still, what do I know - according to IMDB users this is the 193rd best film of all time. Then again, what was it said about monkeys and typewriters?


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