Film Review - Adaption

Starring Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper | Directed by Spike Jonze | Columbia DVD WS R 114min. 2002

Review By Juliet

Adaptation is, in essence, a movie about a guy trying to write a movie about a book. The book is real, the screenwriter is real, but the movie is fictional...sort of. Confused yet? Let's see if I can clear this up for you.

The plot is centered on Charlie Kaufman, the real life screenwriter, who is played (along with his twin brother Donald) by Nicholas Cage. Charlie is trying to write a screen adaptation of the book, The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean's true story of an obsessive orchid hunter. In trying to do the book justice while working through some personal issues, Charlie begins to write himself into his script.

A huge fan of both the Kaufman brothers and director Spike Jonze, I both love and loath this film. There are some great moments, including a prize-winning speech about the craft of writing. Literature buffs and English majors alike will certainly appreciate this ambitious attempt at meta-fiction. But sometimes, it's just a bit too much. You have to pay extremely close attention to what's happening, and I wonder if people who haven't read The Orchid Thief will be able to appreciate that aspect of the plot.

The DVD features trailers and cast & crew filmographies, but that's about it. I would've loved commentary tracks from the Kaufman brothers and/or Jonze or a featurette about the book and its relationship to the Kaufman brother's script. But alas.

I'd call this one a rental, and probably a cautious one at that.