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Adaptation /

Rated: R
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Tilda Swinton, Cara Seymour
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Produced by: Jonathan Demme, Edward Saxon, Vincent Landay
Written by: Charlie Kaufman, Donald Kaufman, Susan Orlean

Distributor: Columbia Pictures


Movie Image
Movie Image

     Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) is a neurotic screenwriter – uptight and questionable his every move. He is constantly being praised for his excellent skill and tremendous dedication to his work. But Charlie needs to find something new to write about, that will blow people away. He refuses to accept help from anyone, and in his script, he simply wants to make people appreciate the simple beauties of life. With no plot, no character development, and nothing to overcome; this will be an abnormally tough movie to write. Charlie doesn’t want his characters to grow, or move on. He wants them to suffer from their depression, and stay in same state that they were in at the beginning of the film. We are blown away by the screenplay that Charlie writes, as well as the actual movie’s. The real writer, who has derived Charlie after himself, has created a thoughtful masterpiece. This is yet another film I can add to the plentiful list of the best movies of the year.

     Charlie does not want to drift off into another one of his mad-writing operations, as he did with Being John Malkovich. He wants to know how it feels to be constrained when busily bumping each key on his typewriter. To be able to accomplish this, he must adapt a novel. The perfect fit for what he wants to do – is adapt the Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) book, The Orchid Thief. The book is about her relationship with John Laroche (Chris Cooper), or as Charlie would think: “a man who appreciates the simple beauty of flowers.” As Charlie is having trouble adapting the screenplay, we soar back in time to see clips of Orlean and Laroche. Laroche is a man who finds legal ways to steal orchids, and Orlean is a reporter for the New Yorker. When conflict surrounds Laroche, after a massive orchid deal, Orlean is the only newswoman brave enough to interview him. At first, she was not impressed with the man’s simplistic ways of living. But as time grows on, the two begin to fall in love.

     Cage not only play’s Charlie, but his twin brother, Donald, as well. Cage’s performances are some of the best of the year and should be remembered when Oscar nominating time comes around. Charlie and Donald aren’t the average, plain, generic twins that dress alike, that we’ve seen in countless other films. Cage brings difference and variety to the two. One a sweating, crazy, and overly analytic writer, and the other an philosophic toned, seriously funny; babe-magnet. Cage brings such a contrastive view to the two twins, we can always tell them apart. I don’t know how he was able to talk to a stick (they pasted one of the two into each of the shots) so well. Cage is so versatile, and incredibly moving in each of his roles, we don’t feel as if only one actor is living the parts of two different people. It would be interesting to take someone to this film, who had not heard of or seen Cage before. I bet that they would think that the parts of Charlie and Donald were shared by twin actors. He is that good.

     Adaptation has so many meaningful qualities; it would be hard to list them all. As it blasts through its near two hour running length, we feel enlightened by its every move. Nicholas Cage’s stunning performances are so incredible to watch, we could sit in the theatre and analyze them for days at a time. The direction, by Spike Jonze combines beautifully with the uniquely done production, by Jonathan Demme (and four others). There are a few shots that just look perfect. This is rare to come by in such a low budget film. But with the magnificent cast and crew of Adaptation, we are fully engaged in its great sense of filmmaking, wonderful performances, and beautifully done cinematography. We are interested and intrigued in both of its plots – the one that Charlie is writing, and the one that the real Charlie has written. This is a wonderfully done film that is jolly in its execution, and we are pleased by the end result. It is yet another good film to come out in the last portion of 2002. Before December, the year looked as if it was hopeless. Now, I am able to reflect on what a good 365 days for film it has been.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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