Adaptation (Jonze, 2002)

In 2002, Adaptation seemed silly, ill-conceived, and over-the-top to me. But that was before I started writing screenplays. In viewing this wonderment through a different and more experienced lens, it’s clear my initial complaints address the very point Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman are trying to make – that movies are inherently artificial and manipulative, and completely enthralling and personal nonetheless. Adaptation never squanders a moment of dialogue, space, or character even when its trying to convince you of the blatant absurdities at the film’s core. Cage’s dual performance addresses a competition and love deep within the soul of brothers at odds, a trait few movies contemplate with such care. During the great end sequence, when Donald’s death resonates so incredibly with his pessimistic twin Charlie, Adaptation builds emotion out of the dank swamp air and the fading sun light. It takes a character/writer who for nearly two hours has felt lifeless and hopeless, and turns him into something resembling a human being. Jonze might not be the most visually dynamic director of his generation, but he finds an artistic pulse in the strangest pockets of the mind, capturing something altogether uncomfortable and illuminating in the shadows of personal artistic expression.

One thought on “Adaptation (Jonze, 2002)

  1. It’s almost mind-numbing to think how Mr. Kaufman could possibly follow-up this gem. I’m just glad I don’t have to write it, but I’d be happy to watch what he goes through to create it. Cage is also amazing in this dual role, and a true sign as to why he really is a great talent, behind all that terrible hair and movies. Good Review!

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