Adaptation Film Review
Speaking as a writer, and one who has written a screenplay, it is amazing to see how this movie portrays the thought processes one goes through: the editing, the trial and error, the moment of transition for the characters. It is so internalized in this film, and yet it’s there and plain to see. How does that come about? The viewer actually gets the opportunity to witness it during this film.
Actors Nicholas Cage, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep have wonderful performances throughout this film. Cage plays the part of both Kaufman brothers, the screenwriters. Streep is Susan Orlean, the writer, and Cooper is John Laroche, the horticulturist.
Cage gets a lecture about screenwriting! It's so intense I get chills every time.
Charles Kaufman, the screenwriter, has written himself into the story. His twin brother (made up for the screenplay), is the exact opposite of Charlie. While Charlie is introverted and socially awkward, Donald is carefree and comfortable with who he is both in private and in public.
Donald, who has never been able to keep a job for long, has decided that he is going to write a screenplay. Charlie takes this as Donald's jealousy and as if Donald is trying to make him compete. Charlie is upset that Donald is jealous of him, as Charlie's career is also a screenwriter. He is just irritated with Donald’s obliviousness of the world and everyone's opinions of him. And then of course it comes out that it may actually be Charlie who is jealous of Donald.
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Susan is the author of the book that Charlie is supposed to be adapting for a movie. John is a horticulturist with whom Susan has much contact. And doesn’t that sound so professional ? Anything but, John is one of the more interesting characters I’ve seen. He has done everything from cons to selling plants (both illegal and legal) from a professional, franchised green house.
Susan thinks John's interesting too, which is why she wrote her book on the Ghost Orchid, the flower John has a special interest in. The book is her way of telling the story of her relationship with John and her interest in his past and how he sees life.
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The storylines are all important, though very different. So of course I wait for the moment when the characters and plots all intertwine. Coincidentally, so does Charlie.
“We share the same DNA. What could be lonelier than that?” Charlie whispers. His brother doesn’t hear him. Or doesn’t he? Donald isn’t nearly as oblivious as Charlie thinks.
Nicholas Cage plays both twins' parts with such finesse that you forget he is the same actor. Meryl Streep will crack you up with some of her hissy fits. Chris Cooper is the perfect man to play the role of John, a mysterious man of both highly intelligent and simple sentiments. These four incredibly different characters come together to play out some of life's more outrageous dramas.
Watch this movie, if you haven't already. It is worth it to get your mind completely entranced with the characters and anticipating what the characters may do next.
© 2011 Jennifer Kessner