A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
While his latest movie Being John Malkovich (1999) is in production, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is hired by Valerie Thomas to adapt Susan Orlean's non-fiction book "The Orchid Thief" for the screen. Thomas bought the movie rights before Orlean wrote the book, when it was only an article in The New Yorker. The book details the story of rare orchid hunter John Laroche, whose passion for orchids and horticulture made Orlean discover passion and beauty for the first time in her life. Charlie wants to be faithful to the book in his adaptation, but despite Laroche himself being an interesting character in his own right, Charlie is having difficulty finding enough material in Laroche to fill a movie, while equally not having enough to say cinematically about the beauty of orchids. At the same time, Charlie is going through other issues in his life. His insecurity as a person doesn't allow him to act upon his feelings for Amelia Kavan, who is interested in him as a man. And Charlie's twin ...Written by
Having been submitted the screenplay for approval, Susan Orlean was strongly opposed to the making of the film; she ended up reluctantly approving its production, and was ultimately very impressed with the final result. In 2012, she stated "[reading the screenplay] was a complete shock. My first reaction was 'Absolutely not!' They had to get my permission and I just said: 'No! Are you kidding? This is going to ruin my career!' Very wisely, they didn't really pressure me. They told me that everybody else had agreed and I somehow got emboldened. It was certainly scary to see the movie for the first time. It took a while for me to get over the idea that I had been insane to agree to it, but I love the movie now." See more »
At the end of the film when Charlie pulls out of the parking garage, crew member Jennifer Porst sits next to him in the car for a single shot, though he is riding alone. See more »
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. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I'm way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat I would ...
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The screenplay is credited as being written by both Charlie Kaufman and his fictional brother Donald. See more »
actors & director create startling and original film
"Adaptation" is an off-the-wall film with a startling second half. Overall, the film is darkly comic, but viewers get an unexpected dose of movie action and violence before everything is said and done.
It's fair to say that there is a fair amount of violence in the film, and even when you know it's coming, you're still caught off guard. Spike Jonze is merciless in this regard. Some of the scenes are incredibly graphic, in fact.
There is a certain adolescent male tone to the film (the violence + sexual fantasy + masturbation). This is partially due to characterization and partially due to the director's own aesthetic and perspective. It's not a bad thing, necessarily, either. It just feels as if an unassuming (white male) kid who grew up thinking a lot about girls and watching movies where stuff blowed up made this film... See it and you'll know what I'm saying.
The script is crazy. Absolutely zany. Akin to "Being John Malkovich" really. Fortunately, this well gives opportunity for Nic Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper to really be free with their art.
Cage has a difficult role, portraying two very different identical twin brothers. Cage is at the emotional core of the film. If his performance doesn't resonate, the film doesn't work. I thought Cage was excellent. And that the script really gives him some wonderful, challenging material to work with. His first scene with Tilda Swinton (looking gorgeous!) is excellent.
Meryl Streep...well, what can be said. She's fantastic. She exudes a tiredness and connectedness and hopelessness and sadness, evolving the character brilliantly over the course of the film.
Similarly, Chris Cooper brings a humanity to the role of the Orchad Thief, really grounding the narrative and making it all believable. Again, he's given a brilliant opening scene and he works wonders with it. Throughout, he is believably arrogant, lonely, vulnerable, and just plain real. Cooper's performance is as rich as any other I've seen this year; truly, truly sublime.
"Adaptation" is certainly not for everyone. If you're looking for something starkly different and simmering with originality, give this film a try, though. Amidst some cloying self-referential clap-trap, there are actually some really freshing film moments.
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