I actually have some interest in the notion of things like Destiny versus Free Will. And who better to explore that than the great Philip K. Dick. Or maybe not, as he was kind of a dark writer. Things don’t always go well for folks in his books.
I actually have some interest in the notion of things like Destiny versus Free Will. And who better to explore that than the great Philip K. Dick. Or maybe not, as he was kind of a dark writer. Things don’t always go well for folks in his books. But they didn’t go to badly in this film adaptation of one of his short stories. Although, with a few minor adjustments, The Adjustment Bureau could have been much better than it was. See what I did there? Yeah, I know. Too obvious. It just had to be said. I should cut it out now, thought, right? Nope, I’m leaving it in. So there.
Ok, so in The Adjustment Bureau, David Norris, played rather well by Matt Damon, is a rising star as a congressional candidate. He may be President one day. He happens to meet a lovely woman, Elise (Emily Blunt) who is a very talented modern dancer, and they take a shine to one another. But as it turns out, their meeting wasn’t chance at all. they were supposed to meet – but only once. But the second time their paths cross, it IS by chance; and their budding romance will end both of their future dreams, despite being with one another. At least, this is what The Adjustment Bureau says.
The Adjustment Bureau is the large group of people that keep everyone’s life paths going the direction they are supposed to go. Well, most people, anyway: more important ones who will make a greater difference in the world. Very rarely does someone happen to go off of that plan. You know, like David and Elise have. So now, David is determined to find Elise and make his own plan. He believes that his choices are all he really has in life, the Adjustment Bureau is real keen on keeping them apart, because that’s what the plan says should be.
My first thoughts are about how good Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are here. Their romantic chemistry is spot on. Their interactions during their flirting, their attraction, is palpable. They are simply excellent. It’s a great love story. In fact, all of the cast is excellent. This is definitely the strongest aspect of the film.
They also do a great job visually with the idea of the Adjustment Bureau people moving about the city. Go in one door, they can traverse blocks by coming out a door almost anywhere. However, in their endeavor to show us things like this, and in other explanations as to how the Bureau works, they manage to have little uncertainties, sort of like holes in their own rules. And I really hate it when a sci-fi film has problems like this. Sometimes these Adjusters can just point a finger and make little things happen – someone trips, or a cup of coffee spills. And yet, other times they don’t do that at all. Little rule breaking moments that don’t sit right are what keep this movie from being great. Not that these are egregious errors, just big enough for me to mention them.
I haven’t read this particular Philip Dick story, so I also don’t know how much they tweeked it for the Hollywood film machine, though I only tend to expect that in the endings because Hollywood usually likes people to feel good when they leave the theater rather than think about stuff. This will make you only think a little about Destiny and Freewill but it also throws in some stuff about religion in a round about way by telling us the person in charge of writing each person’s plan is called “The Chairman”. That’s who all these adjusters answer to. So, that’s either God, or maybe Frank Sinatra. Maybe it’s both, depending on how much you idolize Sinatra.
Still, The Adjustment Bureau is a decent movie and I’d give it a good 3 kittenhands. I might go to 3 and a half. Have a go at this one. Actually, now that I think about it, if you think of The Chairman in this as Sinatra, it makes the movie pretty funny. 🙂
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, thinking maybe they should rewrite this as a romance fantasy where Frank Sinatra is The Chairman as a big cherub making people fall in love and singing songs. Ack. Sorry, Philip K. Dick.