Monday, March 7, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau


As far as boy-meets-girl films go, this one is a keeper. Not only does this film tart up the rather tired romance genre with an inspired thriller twist, but the chemistry between leads Matt Damon and Emily Blunt is downright electrifying. Add to mix a Phillip K. Dick adapted story which conspires to allow them to ‘meet cute’ on multiple occasions, and The Adjustment Bureau might just be the perfect date movie.

Writer George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum, Oceans 12) makes a confident directorial debut with his main man Damon playing feisty up-and-coming politician David Norris, who is set to shake up the US Senate if he stops sabotaging himself with youthful antics. On election night, David is mesmerised by the beautiful dancer Elise (Blunt), but ‘the powers that be’ – literally - get in the way to keep David on track. In a marvellous advertisement for Moleskines, David’s fate is mapped out in a notebook and monitored by a band of mysterious, besuited men who all sport fedoras like they’ve stepped out of a film noir.

Fans of The Matrix or Alex Proyas’ superb neo-noir Dark City will be in familiar (if watered down) territory here, as David discovers the truth behind his ‘fate’ and is then forced to fight for his own free will. Damon is very well cast, with his effortless likeability and everyman quality, as well as the commanding presence necessary to carry the film. Blunt is given decidedly less to do; barring one lovely dance sequence, she is fairly firmly relegated to the sidelines, though sheer force of will sees her manage to make Elise three dimensional in spite of the annoyingly passive writing. Mad Men’s John Slattery steps smoothly into his fedora-wearing role alongside a believably conflicted Anthony Mackie, while Terence Stamp is another piece of genius casting, playing fate’s ominous enforcer.

Great actors, an engaging, brain bending story and a series of clever chase sequences through New York City all point to the bright cinematic future of The Adjustment Bureau. However much like David’s plan, this all goes terribly off course during the film’s dénouement, when Nolfi decides to slather on his moral message so thickly it’s almost suffocating. This atrociously trite conclusion threatens to ruin the entire film, but perhaps if we can just get a hold of the right Moleskine, we can make some adjustments, and it’ll be like that ending never happened…


Published on Concrete Playground
Australian release date: 3 March 2011


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