Friday, June 10, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau ***

Director: George Nolfi
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt
John Slattery, Terence Stamp, Anthony Mackie, Michael Kelly

Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, The Adjustment Bureau deals with fate and the forces that shape our every day lives. The film doesn't question the existence of a godlike figure, it establishes there is one (interesting touch for sci-fi) and instead focuses on the bureaucratic processes that said entity uses to maintain order in his plan.
The title bureau in this case consists of men (apparently the heavens have no gender equality programs) dressed in perfect suits and fedoras who are able to freeze time and like race-car mechanics, polish, clean and fix the unaware people who then just keep on living.
No human is ever supposed to see this and the bureau makes sure of that, until one day New York Congressman David Norris (Damon) accidentally runs into one of their interventions. He is warned that if he ever speaks about what he saw, they'll reboot his brain, but worse than that, they forbid him from pursuing the love of Elise Sellas (Blunt) an eccentric dancer he met recently. The film then makes a fascinating turn: instead of becoming a flat out sci-fi thriller, it shifts into a breathtakingly romantic study of humanity's need to explain love.
Sure, the way in which Nolfi bends Dick's story to fulfill his romantic agenda might seem off-putting to some who want their sci-fi to be more cerebral and less sentimental, but the way in which the story is told, without any stylistic frills (despite the genre) makes for a purely classic film aesthetic.
It feels like watching an interpretation of timeless pieces like Love Story or Casablanca, with a twist, yet like the romance movies that endure the test of time, the added genre details aren't necessary to fulfill the film's larger theme.
If you took the sci-fi out of The Adjustment Bureau, you'd still have a wonderful movie, this can't be said of recent films in its vein like Inception, which only dreams it could've mustered the humanity Nolfi injects into this one.
Most of the film's success is owed to Damon and especially Blunt, who achieve a delicious screen chemistry. All throughout the movie you want them to be together and this helps make the audience an accomplice, giving the film a distinctive participatory feeling. Damon squeezes the hell out of his good looks and Blunt is seductively ethereal. Few times in recent films have two leads had the intense chemistry these two have. You really leave The Adjustment Bureau wishing you could follow these two characters for years.


Castor said...

I have been waiting forever for this to hit DVD! What is going on!? Always had a weakness for these romantic sci-fis. Nicely written review, Jose.

Luke said...

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who found the romantic infusion into the sci-fi elements of this movie refreshing. And you're totally right - Blunt achieves some killer presence in this movie. Too bad it got shoved in a horrible release month. It's not like it was The Wolfman or something...

Jose said...

Castor: you'll be in for a treat when you watch it.

Luke: ugh I know right? Nobody paid much attention to it. So sad!

Lucas Dantas said...

aww lovely review, i wanna see it!