The Adjustment Bureau

2011-06-08 17:22
The Adjustment Bureau
What it's about:

A young politician (Matt Damon) stumbles across a conspiracy that changes everything he knew about the world. But when that conspiracy does everything it can to keep him apart from a woman  with whom he has an obvious and immediate connection (Emily Blunt), he sees no choice but to fight back.

What we thought:

For a science fiction author whose work is as challenging as Philip K Dick's is, it's amazing how many films have been made of his work. From Blade Runner to Total Recall, Minority Report to A Scanner Darkly - Dick may not have lived to enjoy the success of these adaptations of his work but they have almost all been commercially and critically well received. Amazingly, while nothing beats the sheer Dickishness (heh) of A Scanner Darkly, one could seldom ask for a better and more accessible introduction to his vision than The Adjustment Bureau.  

Weirdly, though, as far as I can tell, The Adjustment Bureau is only very loosely based on his very short short story, The Adjustment Team – essentially keeping the basic convention of a shady organisation controlling the world and building up the rest of the narrative from scratch. It's truly impressive then, that not only does The Adjustment Bureau encapsulate most of the major themes that Dick was so interested in – the nature of reality; grand conspiracies; God and religion; regular people rising up and fighting an oppressive existence – it is all done through the most unlikely of lenses: that of an unabashedly, unapologetically romantic love story.      

The result is a film that is obviously flawed in that it is at times a bit silly, the logic of the central conceit is sometimes questionable and there are some plot contrivances along the way but - oddly and in a very Philip K Dick way – these flaws do very little to detract from the film's many pleasures. Indeed, they may even add to the enjoyment. And, there really is no two ways about it: there is a fortune to enjoy here.

This may be director and screenwriter George Nolfi's directorial debut but his efficiency at balancing the film's sci fi-thriller aspects and its romantic heart is incredibly impressive. He also deals with a lot of fairly heady ideas in a breezy, easily accessible manner so that they underpin the story and the action, rather than suffocate them. The very light-on-its-feet script is a pitch perfect mix of suspense, witty humour and immensely likeable characters that serves as a perfect platform for Matt Damon and Emily Blunt to not only bring their A-game individually, but to show off one of the best on-screen chemistries to come in a long, long time.

The Adjustment Bureau is, if general critical opinion is to be believed, not for everyone but I found it to be a complete joy from beginning to end and is pretty easily one of my favourite films this year. And, please, could we stop with the Bourne comparisons – The Adjustment Bureau is its own beast and deserves to be treated that way. 

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt bring their A-game to a thoroughly enjoyable sci fi-thriller romance that asks big questions about our destiny.
Read more on:    emily blunt  |  matt damon  |  review  |  movies

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