Posted by: greercn | March 10, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Sci fi romantic dramas are not a new form of film, but “The Adjustment Bureau” gives the genre some neat twists. Philip K Dick’s story “Adjustment Team” forms the basis of the plot, but director and co-writer (with Dick) George Nolfi takes the bare bones – do we have free will or are we fated to act a certain way by superior beings – and strays quite a long way from the original.

That’s no bad thing. Mr Dick’s tales (I am a burbling fan) have been mined extensively in recent years, notably in “Bladerunner”, “Total Recall” and “Minority Report”. His perspective, based on conspiracy and higher powers, suits the helplessness of the times. Of course, the ideas have to be jollied up a little for Hollywood’s tastes.

if you want the details of Dick’s plot, go to Wikipedia. This “reimagining” takes Matt Damon, who seems to be in everything I see right now and Emily Blunt and goes with the idea that a young political hopeful and a modern dancer are not meant  to be together, but are very determined to change the rules and find a future.

You’re in “Inception” land, but it’s an exceptionally pleasant ride. The effects and sets are very easy on the eyes and any New York travel bosses could use loads of scenes to drum up new business and tourism. The Big Apple has never looked so pretty. Even the sewers are oddly shimmery.

Creativity and imagination are here, with great big dollops of ideas and provocative thought. I do love a movie that looks good and makes me think philosphically.

Of course, there are weaknesses. Emily Blunt plays Elise and has a great body double for the dance scenes. However, she lacks a dancer’s distinctive movements, although she tries, valiantly. No politician could be as honest as Damon’s character David and be successful. Trust me.

These niggles are more than balanced by the lovely chemistry their characters have. You believe that they are so in love that they will risk everything for their feelings.

Terence Stamp is really wonderful as one of those who adjust reality when people go “off plan”. He still has the most beautiful twinkle in his blue eyes and charisma in extraordinary quantities. The last few times I have seen him in films, I feared he was doomed to play B movie Brit gangsters. Thank goodness that casting has ended its run of dud characters.

Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie and Shane McRae give the best performances, with  a special note for Anthony Mackie who I will watch out for in future. He is very special here.

The soundtrack manages to be unobtrusive and helpful and includes a super track by “They Might Be Giants” who continue to be utterly wonderful, original and modern.

The Stratford Picturehouse audience seemed very divided. About half were as gripped as I was – I never looked at my watch – and yet others seemed to drift to their phones and lose attention. It’s low key, yet has very good action sequences. Celebrity cameos are plentiful, if you like that sort of thing.

Jennifer Ehle has a superb but very small role as a bartender. Blink twice and you’ll miss her.

I liked it a lot. See it, if you have a decent attention span and like to have ideas in your movies.

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