Adaptation. (2002)






Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingston, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Judy Greer, Bob Yerkes, Jim Beaver


Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) has just taken on a new assignment: to adapt Susan Orlean's (Meryl Streep) non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, which is the story of John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a plant dealer who clones rare orchids then sells them to collectors. While his easygoing twin brother Donald (Nicolas Cage), is writing scripts with ease, Charlie finds himself on a perpetual struggle that never seems to end.


Needless to say is that the screenplay plays a major role in the making of a film. But when it comes to creative genius Charlie Kaufman is fundamental to give him most of the credits for the success of the film.

Delightfully bizarre, funny, unique, and well paced, Adaptation. is one of the most intelligent and original films I've ever seen.

Kaufman seems to the best master of destroying the line between reality and fiction - as seen in Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The story sounds kind of crazy - I mean, a writer trying to adapt a book for a screenplay, not succeeding, yet writing a screenplay about his inability to adapt the damn book - but it's pure genius. Equally brilliant is Charlie Kaufman's idea of creating an imaginary twin brother, Donald, that helped both fictional Kaufman, and real like Kaufman writing the screenplay. Also, not only Donald Kaufman is credited as co-writer, but he also got a real Oscar nomination. Isn't that even crazier?

The story revolves around four main characters, seemingly very different from each other, but they can be basically divided into two contrasting groups. Charlie and Susan, both boring and neurotic characters, find balance with Donald and John, both funny and interesting characters.

In his second collaboration with Kaufman, director Spike Jonze, who seems to have left the puppets' wires to Kaufman - see what I did there? -, does a good job, still the direction is outshined by the story.

The acting is surprisingly good, and you know who I'm talking about. Despite the lack of facial expressions, Nicolas Cage brilliantly plays both of the Kaufman brothers, and easily separates them in his portrayal. He has a consistent depressed manner as Charlie, the less confidant and more withdrawn, and he is consistently funny as Donald, the more outgoing and relaxed brother. Meryl Streep is equally excellent as Susan Orlean, the New Yorker journalist that want to understand what it feels like to be passionate about something. Chris Cooper does a wonderful job as John, the Orchid Thief, and brings humanity to the role.


Donald Kaufman: You are what you love, not what loves you.

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