Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie review: The Adjustment Bureau

I just finished watching The Adjustment Bureau, a new release we rented.

It is a very complicated, convoluted story, but fascinating. The men in hats (no women in the Bureau, I noticed) -- who are they and who do they work for? The answers to those two questions are made clear during the first half of the story, although it is fun trying to figure it out first. Once we know that, the rest of the story centers around whether the hero (David) will choose to work with them or rebel against them. Working against them seems impossible - will he even try? And if he does, can he possibly succeed? How would he even begin?

I like seeing how talented writer/storytellers tackle the big questions, and this film, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, definitely riffs on some big questions. Satisfyingly. How cool.

There are some big plot holes that must be overlooked. (Huge: If the men in hats can freeze people and change their minds for them, why don't they just do that to David and Elise?) Sometimes, one is willing to overlook the holes, as I was for this film. I asked myself why I was willing to do so? In other films, I can't forgive the holes and they pull me right out of the story.

Self, the answer is:

The acting.

Specifically, the acting by Matt Damon as well as Emily Blunt.

These two talented actors created characters we love from their first moments on screen. Not only that, they created a relationship we care about. In this movie, it is particularly important that the audience care about the relationship itself. Without that investment, the whole thing falls apart. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt did an amazing job of this. Now that I think about it, Matt Damon always has great chemistry with his female counterparts. What a great actor. (I may as well admit it: he is a favorite of mine, and has been for forever.)

It made me realize: relationships between characters are really important to me. That's why I can't forgive Mockingjay (The Hunger Games), and I see that in most of my other reviews, too (including some that are forthcoming).

So if that is the case, why do I love (500) Days of Summer so? Its depiction of a relationship is arresting, but (SPOILER) the relationship doesn't work out. Yet I love love love that movie. The key here is that we end up seeing that we were experiencing the relationship from the point of view of one member. Once we are given the outside perspective, we see that it was not what it appeared. It's a really unique, layered film.

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