Monday, February 6, 2012

The Adjustment Bureau

Terence Stamp warns Matt Damon that humanity will pay a price if he follows his heart's desire in the disappointing, The Adjustment Bureau

**1/2 out of ****

What a lame ending! The Adjustment Bureau is otherwise a beautiful return to classic metaphysical science fiction or fantasy. It's based on a short story by Philip K. Dick and has the kind of paranoid fantasy world I would require from anything based on his work. It's almost like a light-hearted Dark City (a much better film). The plot is thought-provoking and seems to promise a profound outcome. Instead we're given an insulting childish cop-out that aims to emotionally satisfy as though the intellect of the audience had never been engaged.  

This is one of those 'almost great' movies that seems to work so well until you realize that an element of it's very foundation isn't in place. The atmosphere of the movie is beautifully mysterious. When you have John Toll doing cinematography and Thomas Newman scoring the music, you've already got something very rich. 

If you've ever seen Wings of Desire or City of Angels, you have a similar group of mystical men in suits who are part of what is called The Adjustment Bureau. They interfere with the passage of peoples lives in order to help humanity down the path of a preferable destiny. The main character has become aware of the Bureau and would rather cheat the destiny selected for him. For mysterious reasons they want him to stay away from the woman he loves.

Members of the Bureau are amusingly played with casual working-man attitudes by Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, and Terence Stamp (awesome). There is a kind of whimsey to how they covertly slip in and out of secret passages and short cuts in the city. There are a list of limitations these controllers have if they are to be cheated.

The most important achievement in this film, is that it succeeds where most romantic fantasies fail in making the love chemistry work. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt are wonderful in all the scenes they share. It's a shame these characters weren't given a film that was worthy of it's great Body Snatchers-like poster:

Watch Ignatiy and Christy discuss the film.

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