The Adjustment Bureau – Review
March 19, 2011 6 Comments
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Directed by George Nolfi. Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Natalie Carter, John Slattery, Terence Stamp
Loosely adapted from a short story by Philip K Dick from 1954 (The adjustment team), the Adjustment Bureau tries to take the usual Dick’s elements about conspiracy and paranoia and mixes them up into what’s essentially a love story.
If you really wanted to take this film apart you’d probably have quite an easy time: of course, the original conceit is ludicrous, the plot holes are everywhere and when you stop and think about it for more than 5 minutes you might even be able to draw a line connecting all the dots much before the actual ending is revealed. But all that doesn’t take away from the fact that if you did manage to suspend your disbelief, you might actually enjoy the ride.
There are a few interesting ideas here and there: the argument about pre-destiny and free will, or the fact that happiness of spirit can make a fighting relax too much (successful politicians are people who are not very lucky in love and only a broken heart can give them the anger for a real political victory). None of them is highly original to be honest, or even dealt with in any depth, but it’s all added to the mix and it’s there for whoever care enough to pay attention to the details.
The film is more concerned with the actual romance between the two leads and they both play their parts in the best possible way. Matt Damon once again demonstrates his versatility (My God, how many films has he done recently!?!) and the chemistry with his co-star Emily Blunt is quite strong despite the absurdity of the plot itself (and that awkward first scene of them together in the bathroom, which is particularly contrived and seemed a bit out of place, compared to the rest of the film).
It’s interesting to notice that the film was meant to come out about 6 months ago but rumors of disappointing test screenings, re-shoots and some of the similarities people felt the film had with Inception, delayed the release of the film. In fact I believe it had 3 different release dates.
While it might not have the scope or ambition of Inception (it’s interesting that even the UK critic Mark Kermode calling it “Inception-Light”), at the same time the film is intriguing, entertaining and even romantic enough to sustain its length (mercifully only 106 minutes), though I must say there are as many plot holes as there are people working for the “adjustment bureau itself it seems… And moreover, I thought that the ending did come a bit too abruptly and felt rushed (I do wonder if that’s the one that was planned).
It is set in today’s world and yet it has a slightly retro feel, from the way it’s filmed to the way it’s paced and acted and even the way it looks (the way the “Adjustment Bureau People” are dressed, and even the lack of in-your-face-special-effects). It almost feels like one of those episodes of the Twilight Zone from the 60s. That feeling is then enhanced even more by the presence of people like John Slattery, that we are so used to see in Mad Man (that one too set in the 60s).
I saw this film about a week ago and I am already starting to forget it, so I suppose it’s not going to be one of those cult classic that will live forever, but while I was with it I had enough fun and I find it quite enjoyable.