Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Do you ever think that some things were just meant to be, and some not?

Well, mostly not. Yet if you're a believer in destiny then you'll at least be intrigued by the basic premise of The Adjustment Bureau. It stars Matt Damon as New York Senate candidate David Norris who, after flunking badly in the election, happens upon a chance meeting with Elise (Emily Blunt). She's in the gents toilets for reasons best known to herself, and he's talking to himself in preparation for his acceptance speech. Acceptance of defeat, that is. They're a right pair.

Within minutes they kiss. Of course they do. This kind of shit happens to me every day. Regardless, their meeting and the subsequent kiss spells trouble for both, if only they would know it. Enter The Adjustment Bureau. They wear fedora hats, and they do what it says on the tin. They make adjustments to people's lives and events so that things don't deviate too far from 'the plan'. It's all been worked out by 'the chairman'. Are you confused yet?

What you really need to remember here (as if you could forget it) is that The Adjustment Bureau will do almost anything to stop David and Elise from seeing each other again. It's just not part of 'the plan', despite the fact that they think they were meant to be together and seem to care about little else. So determined is David, in particular, that after another chance meeting on a bus he rides the same bus at the same time every day for three years in the hope of finding her, this following another irritating intervention from The Adjustment Bureau. And their hats. Remember the hats, they are important later in the film.

The great problem with all of this is that you probably won't believe that it's so important to the Bureau for David and Elise to be kept apart. They certainly don't. Not that is until the introduction of Thomspon, played by Terence Stamp, at which point it all becomes clear. Clear but still less than convincing. Surely they have caused more trouble than they have fixed with their continued efforts to keep the happy couple apart?

The ending reminded me of one of my novels. Stop laughing now as I tell you that I wrote two (arguably unfinished) novels a number of years ago, but what came between me and becoming the next Nick Hornby (who?) was the fact that I would set up a premise and several subsequent scenes without having any clue as to how it was going to end. It's just possible that that is what has happnened here, although this being an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel you might choose to buy into it. After all, Dick was a proper writer, not some journalism graduate with an hour for his lunch break.

Yet to my mind the ending is rushed and unlikely, though it is difficult to criticise a film with a premise as unlikely as this for having an unlikely ending. This is sci-fi. One could question any number of events before the ending (not least of which is how a man manages to pull Emily Blunt within a minute. A minute spent talking to himself. Even if he is Matt Damon). Still, it remains an interesting concept, and could have been a great film had it been blessed with a plot with a little more substance. It should get you thinking about free will and the choices you make, but it probably won't influence them.

I'm off to finish those novels.........


Sudohnim said...

Hmm see, I had said to Mr T "we could go and watch that, but it strikes me as a very poor Bourne". Glad we haven't been. There is an advantage to reading film reviews :)

Stephen Orford said...

It's really nothing like Bourne, but that is not to say I'd recommend it too highly. I always think you should go and see stuff regardless of reviews. I don't read them to decide whether to go, I read them after I've seen the film to see if I agree.