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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 03.07.11] movie review news scifi thriller romance

Year: 2011
Directors: George Nolfi
Writers: George Nolfi / Philip K. Dick
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Took Verity to a matinee of Adjustment Bureau this weekend and I gotta say I really dug it. Essentially the film is Philip K. Dick light - a breezy, romantic thriller with a decent amount of mystery and supernatural intrigue... but not too much to alienate your date. Basically, don't get the boys together for this one. This is your chance to get your girl back on board your cinema picks for a while and chances are she'll walk away with a spring in her step and a nice feeling that it was all meant to be. But you'll know, just like the Adjustment Bureau, that it was all part of the plan.

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt were not supposed to meet. Damon, a disgraced senator on his way to enjoying a cushy life in the private sector was supposed to spill his coffee at exactly 12:05, thereby missing his bus and never having that second encounter with the mysterious woman he met only months earlier. But chance, it would seem, has other plans for him and when Damon witnesses something he shouldn't his life becomes a race to thwart cosmic forces to live the life he wants, not the one that's written for him.

There are two main reasons why Adjustment Bureau works as well as it does. The first is the on-screen chemistry between Blunt and Damon. Nolfi obviously knows that a film about two people fighting against fate to be together can't work if nobody cares if they win and with only two or three scenes he manages to cement these two characters as meant-to-be. Their flirting is funny and charming and though they seem like they might be from two very different walks of life - Blunt's a dancer and Damon's a venture capitalist - they just... click.

The second reason the film works so well is its wonderful sartorial style. This is what a scifi version of Mad Men would look like. This is a gentleman's scifi film the way Hitchcock turned Noir into a gentleman's genre with North by Northwest.

I can only really fault the film on its third act which instead of just more running should have had some head-splitting revelations about the nature of the universe. I think Nolfi knew this, so he pumped in some techno and gave Damon a magic hat, but in the end we just kind of learn things we already sort of figured and get slightly worried that it was all about god. It's not about god by the way, unless the only word you have to explain the mysteries of the universe is god that is.

Considering how mismanaged the marketing of The Adjustment Bureau was I'm glad to see it finding an audience. It's a got a high end style we don't often see in the genre these days, two very convincing performances and a nifty plot conceit from the imagination of Philip K. Dick. What else can you really ask for?

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John (11 years ago) Reply

"Mad Men would look like. This is a gentleman's scifi film the way Hitchcock"
bla bla, if there is a suit it is a recent memory jog to Mad Men, if it has Hitchcock feel and atmosphere it is a gentleman's movie, give us a break.
We can ask for someone who knows how to cut and how to pan, not to make us vomit after every action shot.
Not to go in depth how shallow this turned out - script adaptation wise.
Convincing empty performances, would do it justice.
After 50th minute the movie takes a fast forward, to nothing, as it turns out.
I hoped for way more, I would have been glad if this had gone straight to dvd.

To be objective, it could have been up par Dark City, this way it is something to forget, fast.


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

Come on, guys - The only way the end of this movie could have been more lame would have been if it turned out to all be only a dream. The movie ex;ore the idea of our fates being fixed and then????? Conspiracy thriller or romantic comedy - Adjustment Bureau needed some serious adjustment in one direction or the other.

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