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The super successful creative team of director Spike Jonez and screen writer Charlie Kaufman’s second successful collaboration after ‘Being John Malkovich’ is ‘Adaptation’. In a few words the movie is an offbeat comedy where Kaufman himself becomes the leading character.
Nicholas Cage is Charlie Kaufman who is a lonely and insecure screenwriter who has been commissioned to adapt the novel ‘The Orchid Thief’ by Susan Orlean (the role is portrayed by none other than the great Meryl Streep). The novel is based on the life of John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a smug plant dealer who was arrested some times ago for smuggling exotic orchid. The film deals with the struggles of Kaufman to write the script, and the troubles are compounded by the presence of his twin brother Donald (also played by Nicholas Cage). Donald is the exact opposite of Charlie; he is confident, reckless and carefree. There are several dramatic flashbacks in the story which probably increases the delusional effects of Charlie. In one flashback we also see Charles Darwin penning his theories too. Actually all of the flashbacks are put into the film to show how Charlie came to existence and what his position in the society is. In short, Adaptation is a story about failure in life and subsequent cases. Charlie is determined to come up with an original script though he has been commissioned to adapt a novel. He does not want any type of sex or guns or car chases that generally seen in the Hollywood movies to be the part of his film. Even he does not want to deal with characters that are growing in lives or overcoming obstacles to become successful in the end. However, in the course of the film, Charlie asks Donald to complete the script for him.
With the acting talents of Nicholas Cage, probably in the greatest role of his career, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep, a fantastic Brian Cox in a small role and Tilda Swinton, the movie is one way or another a surreal treat for most of the movie goers, but for the admires of Jonez-Kaufman brand of film-making this can be considered as an original experience.
The story is based on a true story, but the events of the film are highly fictionalized and most importantly, the events go to draw a fine line with reality. Some times the audience is deceived to understand what is real and what the fragment of Charlie’s imagination is. The basic aspect of the film is that Charlie Kaufman as the character of the film fails miserably, but Charlie Kaufman as the screen writer succeeds in his endeavor. The technique of cut scenes and flashbacks are used with Jonez-Kaufman branded mastery. With the sequential music, the effects were enhanced to a higher level.
Basically the film is a fragment of imagination of Kaufman, and if one looks at that he or she must have to say that the film is a masterpiece. The film has some connections with Federico Fellini’s '8½'(1963), the movie like the Fellini masterpiece tells the story of its own creation.
The movie mainly deals with the mental shortcomings of a character who has given the task of changing an inadaptable novel (as per the idea of Charlie) into a film script. From the novel to the lead character, failure is the main theme of the novel. But along with that there are characters who look at the bright sides of life, and it is this contrasting aspects that makes the movie a must watch for every one who likes movies with difference.