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
In his renowned screenwriters seminars, Robert McKee now makes note that he is not against the use of voice-over narration, "despite what Charlie Kaufman says." His point is voice-over narration must add to the story, not describe what's already being seen on the screen, otherwise there's no reason for it. See more »
When Donald goes through the windshield, you hear the sound of regular glass breaking. You can also see a pane of glass break off the car. Real windshields don't break like normal glass does. It doesn't make a shattering noise and doesn't shatter like window glass. 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 »
For me, it's uniqueness was both it's making and it's undoing
Following his success as screenwriter for 'Being John Malcovich', Charlie Kaufman is given the job of adapting Susan Orlean's book 'The Orchid Thief' which she expanded from a piece in The New Yorker that she wrote on the obsessive orchid hunter John Laroche. While Charlie struggles to adapt the book into a workable film, his twin brother, Donald, writes a successful script around serial killers. The more Charlie struggles to get a story from the book the more the stories and his life start to intertwine.
I wanted to see this film because I had enjoyed BJM and was interested to see what Jonze did next. I came to it with a vague knowledge of the plot but nowhere near enough o have expectations. For the majority of the film, the different style and presentation kept me deeply interested. The way the different stories occurred in different times and places worked a lot better than I would have expected it to. The plot gets increasingly difficult to follow and you'll get as much as you want from it. For those just looking for a simple story then you'll have a nice neat resolution, if you want more then more is there for you as you try to work out what part of the film is real and what part isn't.
I came away with mixed feelings. I felt that the ending was not as clever as it thought it was and didn't give a good ending for those who weren't happy to accept things at face value. I didn't feel let down I just felt that the last section of the film stepped down a gear rather than up. I know that this is the point that Jonze was making perhaps, by allowing Donald's derided ending come to live and be the replacement for Charlie's original aim. But it didn't totally do it for me. Up till this section I was hooked and felt that the various stories all worked to form a mix of drama and comedy. However the end does a disservice to it's characters.
Cage shows that the recent cr*p he has been in doesn't mean he can't act (just that he doesn't). He really brings his two characters to life and plays them so well that it is easy to forget that it is the same person in both roles. Cooper is wonderful and deserved his Oscar for support. Streep, as much as I dislike her, was very good and brought that difficult character out although I did feel she was the one most betrayed by the film's end.
Overall this was an interesting film that worked in most areas. It's difference and it's inventiveness were such that I wanted to keep watching. However I, and I know others will disagree, felt that this uniqueness was not well served by the end of the film. I understand that it was not meant to exist in the same way as the majority of the film but I still felt that the ending didn't meet the standard set by the rest of the film.
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