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Adaptation. (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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Adaptation. -- Trailer for Adaptation.
Adaptation. -- A lovelorn screenwriter turns to his less talented twin brother for help when his efforts to adapt a non-fiction book go nowhere.


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Popularity: ?
Up 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers (WGA):
Susan Orlean (book) and
Charlie Kaufman (screenplay)
View company contact information for Adaptation. on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 February 2003 (USA) See more »
From the creator of Being John Malkovich, comes the story about the creator of Being John Malkovich. See more »
A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won Oscar. Another 75 wins & 82 nominations See more »
(155 articles)
User Reviews:
"The script I'm starting, it's about flowers. No one's ever done a movie about flowers before." See more (713 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Nicolas Cage ... Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman

Tilda Swinton ... Valerie Thomas

Meryl Streep ... Susan Orlean

Chris Cooper ... John Laroche

Jay Tavare ... Matthew Osceola

Litefoot ... Russell (as G. Paul Davis)

Roger Willie ... Randy

Jim Beaver ... Ranger Tony

Cara Seymour ... Amelia Kavan

Doug Jones ... Augustus Margary

Stephen Tobolowsky ... Ranger Steve Neely (scenes deleted)

Gary Farmer ... Buster Baxley

Peter Jason ... Defense Attorney

Gregory Itzin ... Prosecutor

Curtis Hanson ... Orlean's Husband
Agnes NaDene Baddoo ... Orlean Dinner Guest (as Agnes Badoo)
Paul Fortune ... Orlean Dinner Guest
Paul Jasmin ... Orlean Dinner Guest

Lisa Love ... Orlean Dinner Guest
Wendy Mogel ... Orlean Dinner Guest

David O. Russell ... Orlean Dinner Guest

Judy Greer ... Alice the Waitress

Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Caroline Cunningham

Bob Stephenson ... David
Bob Yerkes ... Charles Darwin
Lynn Court ... Laroche's Dad
Roger E. Fanter ... Laroche's Uncle Jim

Sandra Lee Gimpel ... Laroche's Mom (as Sandra Gimpel)
Caron Colvett ... Laroche's Wife
Larry Krask ... EMT

Ron Livingston ... Marty Bowen

Brian Cox ... Robert McKee
John Etter ... McKee Lecture Attendee
Ray Berrios ... Police Officer

Nancy Lenehan ... Kaufman's Mother (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Susan Orlean ... Woman in Supermarket (scenes deleted)

Lance Acord ... Himself (uncredited)
Brigitte Bogle ... Teenage Orlean (uncredited)
Ryan Bosch ... Partygoer (uncredited)

Jan Citron ... Flower Shop Patron (uncredited)

Curt Clendenin ... Restaurant Customer (uncredited)
Lathan Crowe ... Orchid Vendor (uncredited)

John Cusack ... John Cusack (uncredited)

Donald Dowd ... Cafe Customer (uncredited)

Chip Godwin ... Bicycle Messenger (uncredited)

Spike Jonze ... Himself (uncredited)

Catherine Keener ... Herself (uncredited)
Jake Magnuson ... Cafe Customer (uncredited)

John Malkovich ... Himself (uncredited)
Thomas Patrick Smith ... Thomas Patrick Smith (uncredited)

Rheagan Wallace ... Kim Canetti (uncredited)

Directed by
Spike Jonze 
Writing credits
Susan Orlean (book "The Orchid Thief")

Charlie Kaufman (screenplay)

Produced by
Jonathan Demme .... producer
Charlie Kaufman .... executive producer
Vincent Landay .... producer
Peter Saraf .... executive producer
Edward Saxon .... producer
Original Music by
Carter Burwell 
Cinematography by
Lance Acord (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Eric Zumbrunnen 
Casting by
Justine Arteta  (as Justine Baddeley)
Kim Davis-Wagner 
Production Design by
K.K. Barrett 
Art Direction by
Peter Andrus 
Set Decoration by
Gene Serdena 
Costume Design by
Casey Storm 
Makeup Department
Lynn Barber .... makeup artist
Joseph Coscia .... hair stylist
Tony Gardner .... special makeup designer: Artist's Asylum
Isabel Harkins .... makeup artist
Joel Harlow .... makeup department head
Vance Hartwell .... special makeup effects artist
J. Roy Helland .... hair stylist: Meryl Streep
J. Roy Helland .... makeup artist: Meryl Streep
Jessica Huebner .... special makeup effects project manager: Artist's Asylum
Scott Malchus .... special makeup effects producer: Artist's Asylum
Roz Music .... hair department head
David E. Smith .... special makeup effects lead artist
Lilo Tauvao .... special makeup effects artist
Larry Waggoner .... hair stylist
Allen Weisinger .... makeup artist (as Allen Weisenger)
Kevin Yagher .... prosthetic makeup artist: Mr. Cage
Jerry Constantine .... special makeup effects artist (uncredited)
Carol F. Doran .... wig maker: Mr. Cage (uncredited)
Elvis Jones .... special makeup effects artist (uncredited)
Jennifer Saeta .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Brandon Waggoner .... hair extension specialist (uncredited)
Production Management
Desmond Cannon .... post-production supervisor
Desmond Cannon .... studio executive post-production
Maria K. Chavez .... production supervisor: second unit
Kevin Flatow .... assistant production manager
Shoshana Horowitz .... production supervisor: second unit
Karen Koch .... unit production manager
Andrew J. Sacks .... production supervisor
Tobin Armbrust .... executive in charge of production (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Dan Bradley .... second unit director
Brian O'Kelley .... second assistant director
David K. Riebel .... second assistant director: second unit (as Dave Riebel)
Nick Satriano .... first assistant director: second unit
Gregory J. Smith .... second second assistant director
Matthew D. Smith .... second assistant director: second unit
Thomas Patrick Smith .... first assistant director
Art Department
Jess Anscott .... stand-by greensperson
Lynn Christopher .... set designer
Peter Davidson .... set designer (as Peter R. Davidson)
Robert Davis .... labor foreman
James A. Fleming .... swing gang (as Jamie Fleming)
Chris Forster .... construction coordinator
Jeffrey Paul Johnson .... property master
Christian Kastner .... on-set dresser
Michael Leblovic .... lead painter
Patti McNulty .... art department coordinator (as Patricia McNulty)
Bobby Pollard .... swing gang
Anders Rundblad .... construction foreman
Grant Samson .... leadman (as Grant D. Samson)
Christopher E. Schmid .... greensman
Porfirio Silva .... lead greensperson
David M. Steiner .... paint foreman (as David Steiner)
Chris Vail .... assistant property master (as Christopher Vail)
Bennett Andrews .... greens person (uncredited)
Peter Andrus .... art designer (uncredited)
Gregory Paul Austin .... propmaker (uncredited)
David Carberry .... painter (uncredited)
Jaime Castellanos .... greens person (uncredited)
Dan Crawley .... props (uncredited)
Sean D. Cussen .... construction medic (uncredited)
Michael Glynn .... swing gang (uncredited)
Caius Man .... propmaker (uncredited)
Michele Munoz .... buyer (uncredited)
Elizabeth Nagle .... greens person (uncredited)
Peter Ramsey .... storyboard artist (uncredited)
Daron Smith .... property gang boss (uncredited)
Robert Steuer .... carpenter (uncredited)
Robert Stover .... buyer (uncredited)
Paul Walton .... painter (uncredited)
Dennis Young .... greens person (uncredited)
Sound Department
David Bach .... adr editor
Richard Beggs .... sound designer
David Franklin Bergad .... dialogue editor (as David Bergad)
David A. Cohen .... dialogue editor
Lawrence L. Commans .... boom operator
Mark Fay .... boom operator (as Mark W. Fay)
Bruno Frascà .... sound recordist
Lora Hirschberg .... re-recording mixer
Michael Kirchberger .... supervising sound editor
Drew Kunin .... sound mixer
Jeremy Molod .... assistant sound editor
Everett Moore .... apprentice sound editor
Marnie Moore .... foley artist
Nick Peck .... foley mixer
Jory K. Prum .... foley recordist (as Jory Prum)
Julia Shirar .... assistant sound editor
Kent Sparling .... re-recording mixer
Peter Staubli .... sound effects editor
William Storkson .... foley supervisor (as Bill Storkson)
David Abrahamsen .... sound (uncredited)
Christopher Barnett .... re-recording engineer (uncredited)
Mark DeSimone .... adr engineer (uncredited)
Joel Dougherty .... sound intern (uncredited)
Sean England .... machine room operator (uncredited)
Gabriel Guy .... mix assistant (uncredited)
Sean Landeros .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Mark Purcell .... recordist (uncredited)
Derek Vanderhorst .... sound mixer (uncredited)
Mark Weber .... sound mixer: second unit (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Paul Barnes .... lead moldmaker: Artist's Asylum
Gary D'Amico .... special effects coordinator
Conor McCullagh .... alligator puppeteer (as Connor McCullagh)
Paul Salamoff .... effects technician: Artist's Asylum
James Ferguson .... special makeup effects coordinator (uncredited)
Michael Gaspar .... special effects coordinator: second unit (uncredited)
Chris Jones .... special effects technician (uncredited)
Bryan Sides .... studio coordinator (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
John Allardice .... digital artist: Digital Domain
Richard Björlin .... visual effects producer: Digital Domain
Cris Blyth .... digital artist: Digital Domain
Shannan Burkley .... matte painter: Digital Domain
Jodi Campanaro .... digital compositor: Digital Domain
David Crawford .... digital compositor: Gray Matter FX
Jean-Marc Demmer .... digital compositor: Digital Domain
Sean Devereaux .... visual effects compositor: Digital Domain
Leslie Ekker .... visual effects supervisor: Digital Domain
Paul Graff .... 2D artist: Gray Matter FX
Linda Henry .... digital compositor: Gray Natter FX
Kristin Johnson .... digital compositor: Gray Matter FX
Nikos Kalaitzidis .... digital artist: Digital Domain
Joan Kim .... compositor: bee sequence, Gray Matter FX
Kent Lidke .... lighting digital artist: bee sequence, Gray Matter FX
Margaux Mackay .... visual effects supervising producer: Gray Matter FX
Michael Maloney .... digital compositor: Gray Matter FX
Gray Marshall .... visual effects supervisor
Albert Mason .... digital producer: Gray Matter FX
Julien Meesters .... lead compositor: Digital Domain
Eileen O'Connor .... visual effects coordinator: Digital Domain
Christine Petrov .... digital compositor: Gray Matter FX
Robert Rowles .... rotoscope artist: Gray Matter FX (as George Rowles)
Randy Sharp .... digital artist: Digital Domain
Craig Shumard .... motion control technician
Joe Stevenson .... motion control operator (as Joseph Stevenson)
Nick Swartz .... tape operator
Greg Teegarden .... digital compositor: Digital Domain
Dan Trezise .... digital compositor: Gray Matter FX
Ed Ulbrich .... visual effects executive producer: Digital Domain
Vernon R. Wilbert Jr. .... CG supervisor: Digital Domain
Abu Bekka .... modeler (uncredited)
David Cohen .... modeler (uncredited)
Chad E. Collier .... scanning and recording operator: Digital Domain (uncredited)
Molly Hansen .... visual effects business affairs (uncredited)
Tony Magaletta .... second assistant cameraman: underwater unit (uncredited)
Matt McFarland .... scan/record manager (uncredited)
Jerry Pao .... visual effects coordinator (uncredited)
Dan Patterson .... data I/O operator: Digital Domain (uncredited)
Todd Sarsfield .... digital color grader (uncredited)
Tess Spaulding .... system administrator (uncredited)
Rick Barker .... stunts
Dan Bradley .... stunt coordinator
Chris Carnel .... stunt double: Chris Cooper
Julie Janney .... stunt double: Meryl Streep
Lane Leavitt .... stunts
Norb Phillips .... stunts (as Norbert Phillips)
Darrin Prescott .... stunts
Scott Rogers .... stunts
Eddie Yansick .... stunt double: Nicolas Cage
Daniel W. Barringer .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Michael Adler .... chief lighting technician (as Mike Adler)
Danny Anderson .... dolly grip (as Danny M. Anderson)
Nina Chien .... second assistant camera
Keith B. Davis .... first assistant camera: "b" camera: re-shoots
James Fealy .... director of photography: second unit
Jamie Felz .... first assistant camera
Jim Frohna .... gaffer: second unit
Alexander Griffiths .... second grip (as Pie Griffiths)
Zoli Hajdu .... dolly grip
Ben Kaller .... still photographer
Tommy Lohmann .... a camera/steadicam operator (as Thomas H. Lohmann)
Layna McAllister .... first assistant camera
Joseph Messier .... key grip: second unit
Gino Nix .... key grip
Mike Pickel .... video assist operator (as Hans Michael Pickel)
Paul Taylor .... Steadicam operator
Chris Weigand .... assistant chief lighting technician
Mark Williams .... first assistant camera (as Mark H. Williams)
Matthew W. Williams .... camera loader
Greg Brooks .... grip (uncredited)
Frank Buono .... time-lapse photographer (uncredited)
Joe Colangelo .... electrician (uncredited)
Jimmy Ellis .... electrician (uncredited)
Sam Griffin .... electrician (uncredited)
Marc Margulies .... first assistant camera: second unit (uncredited)
Dan Moore .... additional photographer (uncredited)
Dan Moore .... video operator (uncredited)
Robert Oliva .... electrician (uncredited)
Toshiaki Ozawa .... camera operator (uncredited)
Rico Priem .... grip (uncredited)
Hopper Stone .... still photographer: re-shoots (uncredited)
Michael Vejar .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Animation Department
Beau Cameron .... CG character animator: bee sequence, Gray Matter FX
Casting Department
Cate Engel .... casting associate
Kelly Hunt .... extras casting
Rich King .... extras casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Anita Louise Brown .... costumer (as Anita Brown)
Shari Gray .... wardrobe supervisor (as Shari D. Gray)
Stacy Horn .... wardrobe supervisor (as Stacy M. Horn)
Marina Marit .... costumer
Ann Roth .... costume designer: Meryl Streep
Debbie Travis .... costumer (as Deborah Travis)
Editorial Department
Greg Curry .... colorist: dailies
Nathan R. Fitzgerald .... assistant editor (as Nathan FitzGerald)
Bob Fredrickson .... color timer
Chris Lamie .... colorist (digital color correction)
Larry Law .... additional editor
Eric Osmond .... first assistant editor
Mark T. Osborne .... additional colorist (uncredited)
Curtis Schultz .... post-production assistant (uncredited)
Peter Tackaberry .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Corinne Villa .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Location Management
Kent James Stewart Barber .... assistant location manager
Richard Schuler .... location manager (as Rick Schuler)
Carson Turner .... assistant location manager
Frank Aragon .... location scout (uncredited)
Scott Fitzgerald .... location assistant (uncredited)
Music Department
Michael Farrow .... music scoring mixer
Bryan Lawson .... assistant music editor
Sandra Park .... orchestra contractor
Adam Milo Smalley .... music editor
Jason Stasium .... digital score recordist
Tony Finno .... music preparation (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Griff Ruggles .... transportation coordinator
Robbie Stinton .... transportation captain (as Robby Stinton)
Michael 'Crash' Anderson .... driver (uncredited)
Chris Basso .... driver (uncredited)
Carlos Bernal .... driver (uncredited)
Mike Buenfil .... driver (uncredited)
Mike J. Dawson .... driver (uncredited)
John Dixon .... driver: Nicolas Cage (uncredited)
J. Armin Garza II .... driver: camera car (uncredited)
Bill Gay .... driver (uncredited)
Pablo Gonzalez .... driver (uncredited)
David Muntz .... driver (uncredited)
Matt Sage .... driver (uncredited)
Kurt Schmeiderer .... driver (uncredited)
Gregg Videgain .... driver (uncredited)
Other crew
Anzhey Barantsevich .... accountant: Gray Matter FX
Michael Berry .... medic (as Michael R. Berry)
Gary Bevans .... production assistant
Jonilyn Bisset .... assistant production accountant (as Jonilyn Bissett)
Stephen Bures .... assistant: Nicolas Cage
Marc Coppola .... body double: Kaufman Twin
Marlena De Fabrizio .... production assistant
Amanda Farinos .... production assistant
Drew Hayes .... assistant production coordinator (as Andrew Hayes)
Julie Janney .... stand-in: Meryl Streep
Michael B. Johnson .... first assistant accountant: reshoots
Eric Jordan .... systems administrator: Gray Matter FX
Chiemi Karasawa .... script supervisor
Janette Kim .... production assistant
Marco Kyris .... stand-in: Nicolas Cage
Andy Lucksay .... production assistant
Michelle Madden .... researcher
Harris Mann .... body double: Kaufman Twin
Michael G. Maurer .... production assistant
Rob McEntegart .... executive vice president, business affairs: Intermedia Films
Geoff McFetridge .... title designer
Nathan Oliver .... production assistant
Andrew Ortner .... production secretary
Jonathan Paley .... stand-in: Chris Cooper
Krista Parris .... production associate
Joseph Patridge .... production assistant
Kevin Picket .... craft service (as Kevin Pickett)
Jennifer Porst .... assistant: Spike Jonze and Vincenzo Landay
Michelle Roderick .... set production assistant
Howard Shur .... assistant: Spike Jonze and Vincenzo Landay
Emily Sklar .... assistant: Ms. Streep
Seve Spracklen .... production accountant
Rick C. Taplin .... production coordinator
Emma Wilcockson .... production associate
Josué D. Aguilar .... set production assistant: Miami (uncredited)
Paul Aldanée .... photo double (uncredited)
Lance Bangs .... epk director (uncredited)
Sally Ann Brooks .... adr voice (uncredited)
David Charles .... production assistant (uncredited)
Liza Gennatiempo .... set production assistant (uncredited)
Jim Hanna .... caterer: Hanna Brothers Catering (uncredited)
Jean Hodges .... food stylist (uncredited)
Doug John .... intern (uncredited)
Marlene Marks .... payroll (uncredited)
Michelle Matland .... assistant: Ann Roth (uncredited)
Pete Moor .... assistant to actors (uncredited)
Christopher Neil .... rehearsal advisor (uncredited)
Jeffree Newman .... photo double: John Malkovich (uncredited)
Sam Spiegel .... set production assistant (uncredited)
Mark Allan Staubach .... production assistant (uncredited)
David Torn .... textures & guitar (uncredited)
Mark Van Horne .... laboratory contact (uncredited)
Jenni Wieland .... second assistant production accountant (uncredited)
Francis Ford Coppola .... special thanks (as Francis)
Roman Coppola .... special thanks (as Roman)
Sofia Coppola .... special thanks (as Sofia)
John Cusack .... special thanks
Andy Jenkins .... special thanks
Charlie Kaufman .... in loving memory
John Malkovich .... special thanks
John Ptak .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Adaptation" - Japan (English title) (DVD title)
See more »
Rated R for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images
114 min | Turkey:81 min (TV version)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:16 | Australia:MA15+ | Brazil:16 | Canada:14A (Alberta/British Columbia/Manitoba) | Canada:13+ (Québec) | Chile:14 | Finland:K-15 | France:Tous publics | Germany:12 | Hong Kong:IIB | Iceland:14 (original rating) | Iceland:L (video rating) | Japan:PG-12 | Malaysia:U | Netherlands:12 | New Zealand:R13 | Norway:15 | Peru:14 | Philippines:R-18 | Portugal:M/12 | Singapore:PG (DVD rating) (cut) | Singapore:NC-16 (original rating) | South Korea:18 | Spain:13 | Sweden:11 | Switzerland:14 (canton of Bern) | Switzerland:12 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:12 (canton of Vaud) | UK:15 | USA:R (certificate #38094)

Did You Know?

The flower shown during the time-lapse sequence at the end of the movie is called Amelia (an Osteospermum).See more »
Continuity: When the twins talk about the serial killer in the script of "The 3" being a literature professor, Charles' hands are clasped. In the close shot of Donald with Charles in the foreground out of focus, his arms are folded.See more »
[first lines]
Charlie Kaufman:[voiceover] Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked...
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "Jeopardy!: Episode #22.76" (2005)See more »
One Part LullabySee more »


Is Donald Charlie's multiple personality?
See more »
89 out of 102 people found the following review useful.
"The script I'm starting, it's about flowers. No one's ever done a movie about flowers before.", 20 July 2007
Author: ackstasis from Australia

After the phenomenal success of 'Being John Malkovich' in 1999, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman was commissioned to adapt Susan Orlean's non-fiction novel, "The Orchid Thief," for the screen. However, it didn't take long for him to realise that Orlean's book was basically unfilmable, its sprawling and ponderous story lacking any clear structure or coherence. After some months of struggling vainly to write a screenplay from the novel, Kaufman's script inexplicably became the story of a writer's effort to adapt an unadaptable novel. Kaufman's completed script was presented to his financial backers with some trepidation, but they reportedly loved it so much that they decided to abandon the original project and film his screenplay. Spike Jonze, who had also directed "Being John Malkovich," returned to direct "Adaptation," the quirky, twisting, self-referential film that received almost universal critical acclaim. Much like Federico Fellini's classic 1963 film, '8½,' from which Kaufman almost certainly drew inspiration, 'Adaptation' tells the story of its own creation.

Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman, the lonely, insecure and socially awkward screenwriter who is hired to adapt "The Orchid Thief," written by Susan Orlean, who is portrayed by Meryl Streep. The novel itself concerns the story of John Laroche (played by Chris Cooper), a smug plant dealer who was arrested in 1994 for poaching rare orchids in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. As Kaufman struggles to write the script, his troubles are compounded by the presence of his twin brother, Donald (also played by Nicolas Cage), who is Charlie's exact opposite: reckless, carefree, over-confident and perhaps even a bit dim. The script for 'Adaptation' darts back and forth between different moments in time, either chronicling Kaufman's screen writing exploits or Orlean's experiences in writing her novel. At several points in the story, more dramatic flashbacks take place: we see Charles Darwin first penning his theories of evolution and adaptation, a brief history of the grim activity of orchid-hunting, and, in one particularly impressive sequence, we are taken back billions of years to the beginning of life, to trace how Charlie Kaufman came to be here today.

Though purportedly based on a true story, the events of the film are highly fictionalised, and the story always treads a fine line with reality, with the audience never certain of whether or not an event is real (in the context of the film) or merely a creation of Charlie's (or even Donald's) imagination. Charlie Kaufman (the true-life writer, not the character) often receives most of the accolades for the film, but it is director Spike Jonze who shared the vision to execute "Adaptation" on screen. His approach to film-making is always original and daring, never tentative of trying something unique for the sake of the film, even if it may offend the tastes of an audience that is unaccustomed to anything other than the mundane clichés of the modern movies that are churned out daily by Hollywood studios. If this wasn't completely obvious after the weird, twisted, fascinating 'Being John Malkovich,' then 'Adaptation' put any lingering doubts to rest. The director, who started his career directing music videos, seems to share a singular understanding with Kaufman the writer, and a mutual agreement on what the film is actually trying to say.

In addition to a clever story, 'Adaptation' contains some of the finest acting of the 2000s, presenting an excellent selection of seasoned talents at the top of their games. In arguably the greatest role(s) of his career, Nicolas Cage is phenomenal as both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, twin brothers whose complete polarity is startlingly evident in the execution of their respective film scripts. Charlie, whilst writing his adaptation, is determined to avoid the usual clichés and construct a film without any conventional plot, to write a movie "simply about flowers." Donald, however, blissfully oblivious to his own unoriginality as a writer, churns out a hackneyed psychological thriller, entitled 'The 3,' in which the serial killer, his female hostage and the cop are the very same person. In an ironic twist of fate, Donald's trite treatment is hailed as a masterpiece, adding further to the inadequacy already being felt by his disillusioned brother. Cage is excellent, and often absolutely hilarious, as both characters, giving each brother a distinct attitude and personality, so that it is possible to tell immediately which is which even though their physical appearance is exactly the same.

Meryl Streep is equally excellent as Susan Orlean, the journalist for "The New Yorker" who researches John Laroche and endeavours to catch a glimpse of the famed and very rare Ghost Orchid, if only to understand what it feels like to be passionate about something. Chris Cooper arguably steals the entire show as the charismatic and enigmatic Laroche, whose tragedy-afflicted life is dedicated to mastering numerous obscure fields (such as orchid-collecting, or fish-collecting), each of which is sporadically cast aside and permanently forgotten as soon as he feels it's time to move on, to "adapt" to another hobby. From four Academy Award nominations, only Cooper walked away with a statue. Notably, Charlie Kaufman's screenplay was also nominated for an Oscar. Since the script was credited to both "Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman," the latter became the only entirely fictional person in history to have been nominated for an Academy Award.

In a nutshell, 'Adaptation' is all about failure. Charlie Kaufman is absolutely determined to write an original script, without cramming in "sex or guns or car chases or characters learning profound life lessons or growing or coming to like each other or overcoming obstacles to succeed in the end." However, after he eventually asks Donald to complete the script for him, it descends into exactly that. A visit to a screen-writing seminar by Robert McKee (memorably played by Brian Cox) – who is famous for warning strongly against Deus Ex Machina – is used as exactly that. Charlie Kaufman the character fails miserably in writing his script, but, ironically, Charlie Kaufman the writer succeeds ever so magnificently!

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