Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

What would you do if you got to peek behind 'reality' and see what's really going on? And what if the plan for the universe didn't quite harmonise with your own? Matt Damon's David Norris must deal with these very questions in 'The Adjustment Bureau', George Nolfi's directorial debut.
Philip K. Dick's original story, 'Adjustment Team', is no masterpiece. As a fan of his work, even I have to admit it's a pretty weak story. It is also one based on a stolen premise. The original, and far, far superior story on which Dick bases his tale, is 'Yesterday Was Monday' by the vastly underrated Theodore Sturgeon. So I have no qualms with Nolfi (scriptwriter of 'The Bourne Supremacy' and 'Ocean's Twelve') taking large liberties with Dick's story. And he does, to largely beneficial effect. To the timeworn theme of free will and determinism, he brings a refreshing sense of importance; it is practically the whole point of the film. (Nolfi is a former student of philosophy, throwing up his PhD to tackle Hollywood.) He also fashions what has to be the most romantic movie of the year.
Matt Damon, giving a winning performance, has the world at his feet. Although he loses his initial attempt at election to the senate, it is clear success is just around the corner. And then he accidentally meets the woman of his dreams, Elise (Emily Blunt in another winning role). The fact that the whole universe is against this relationship doesn't stop him jeopardising his career, his sanity, even his life to pursue a woman he barely knows. If this seems a little crazy, it is, and if the story seems absurd, it is very, very absurd. But in the face of such old-fashioned and well-realised romance, who cares?
'The Adjustment Bureau' is being marketed as some sort of sci-fi Bourne movie. It is not. Firstly it is more theology (albeit cod theology) than science fiction, and secondly, despite Damon's presence, it is a much more meditative than the Bourne blockbusters. This is a fantasy love story, in the tradition of 'Somewhere in Time' or 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'. Absurd or not, how can you resist?
I couldn't.

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