Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Adaptation.



USA 2002 : Spike Jonze : 114mins

The new film from the team behind Being John Malkovich is Adaptation. the full stop is, pedantically, part of the correct title. Perhaps Affectation might have been closer to the mark: were venturing deep into smart-arse territory this time, with scriptwriter Charlie Kaufman as our guide. And it turns out to be a journey far into the nether regions of Kaufmans own backside as Adaptation.s hero is none other than Kaufman himself played by Nicolas Cage, who also does double-duty as Charlies (fictional) twin brother Donald.

Nicholas gets cagey around Meryl Streep in Adaptation.The movies Kaufman twins are both screenwriters Charlie a social misfit, unexpectedly red hot on the back of the Oscar-nominated Malkovich, Donald a happy-go-lucky newcomer who shares little of his brothers scorching originality and churns out formulaic trash in accordance to the tried-and-tested box-office formula. His success further depresses Charlie, who is struggling to adapt Susan Orleans (real-life) best-seller The Orchid Thief we see episodes from the book acted out by Meryl Streep (as Orlean) and Chris Cooper (as the eponymous thief John Laroche), which become increasingly bizarre as Donald starts helping out his blocked brother

Adaptation., though it tries mighty hard, never quite establishes it own hysterical, twisted-logic universe to rival that of Malkovich (most of the best gags tellingly feature Malkovich personnel). The originality level isn’t quite the same, and the central gimmick a movie that writes itself as we watch was pulled off more wittily in 1994s postmodern Freddy Krueger sequel, Wes Cravens New Nightmare. But there’s no shortage of intriguing ideas and plenty of terrific moments along the way courtesy of Jonze, Kaufman, and their uniformly up-for-it cast.

28th January 2003
(seen 27th, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle)

by Neil Young