Adaptation (2002)

Adaptation (2002)Every scriptwriter’s nightmare; writers block, made worse by a book with no real plot to book adding to the trouble of the situation. Something that Charlie Kaufman, known for his boundary breaking cinematic works. Who took the curious idea of a scriptwriter writing a screenplay, as the basis for the film, we see this journey on screen in Adaptation (2002) set during the making of Being John Malkovich (1999) Kaufman played by Nicolas Cage with a heavy dose of insecurity and shyness and the more extrovert fictional twin brother Donald Kaufman.

I was fascinated by the premise that stripped back to the bones of an creatives thinking, to put that on show for the first time. of course it’s not the first time we have seen struggling scriptwriter’s in film. This new take places them centre stage, seeing that struggle, the author of the source boom The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) that itself was/is nothing more than a documentary of a botanist John Laroche (Chris Cooper) who jumps from fascination to fascination, that intrigued the writer for the New Yorker, who followed him or a period, forming a stronger that usual bond between the subject and the interviewer.

This journey for the majority of the film confounds the frustrated scriptwriter who chews through his 13 week deadline, having only produce a opening that lead…nowhere. Made worse by his brother who was finding success in life, love and his work, following in his brothers footsteps. Taking scriptwriting classes, he is more inspired and drive that allows him to producing an amazing and flawed script. The twins are easily and splitting of the Charlie Kaufman that we know and admire, expanding on his strengths and weaknesses and insecurities that make the audience feel for Charlie, but is that Charlie the character portrayed by Cage, or are we getting an open book take on the screenwriter himself?

Turning to Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean the fascinated writer who knows herself as a writer that her work is not worth a film adaptation. Streep as versatile as always, takes you into the world of her muse that becomes her lover, an escape from reality, to something, someone to spark in her an energy she has lost.

Kaufman once again stretches the limits of the cinema, stripping it bare, his approach that is really beyond definition in the usual sense, being more introspective and thought-provoking, whilst also being entertaining and fun, giving the audience plenty to think about, hoping that his own creation, himself succeeds in completing the work, which this time is on a cinematic cliché that is just beginning. I reminded the more recent Stranger than Fiction (2006) that could easily have been written by Kaufman, questioning our own intentions, our destiny, is there a higher power, are we directed or influenced by a higher power, who really could be Emma Thompson as  Karen Eiffel inadvertently writing the destiny of another. And with Will Ferrell whose renowned for his comedy can work with such fascinating material. I just wish there were more films that explored the fabric of film and narrative.

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