Adaptation
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Ben Kaller

Adaptation is first and foremost a revelation of its title. Everything in this film is adapting constantly as environments change Ė from orchids to screen writers to the movie itself. Indeed, the audience is asked to adapt with each new scene.

Directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation is another melding of these wildly creative minds that brought us Being John Malkovich in 1999. If you liked the Malkovich film, youíll like this one. If you didnít like the Malkovich film, youíll probably still like Adaptation because it is totally unique and more adaptable to a wider audience.

So whatís this movie all about? Without giving too much away letís just say itís about an orchid thief, a writer who writes an article in the New Yorker about this thief and a screen writer who makes a movie about it. But underneath that surface story lurks a depth of richness, which takes you in several directions at once, and keeps you guessing every step of the way. But itís not just the fact that youíre constantly surprised; itís the way youíre surprised, and the largest contribution to that surprise comes from the four main characters and the three talented actors who play them.

Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep are great as the orchid thief and the woman who writes about him. John Laroche (Cooper) is a down to earth guy with missing front teeth whose excuses for orchid thievery are sheer poetry. Adding to his mystique is a vein of random violence that strikes Laroche when he least expects it. All these characteristics make him interesting and sexually appealing to New Yorker writer Susan Orlean (Streep) who is always walking the dangerous edge of being in total control in her public life while enjoying being totally out of control in her private life.

And then thereís the dual performance of Nicolas Cage who plays Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother Donald. Charlie is the painfully shy introverted artist. Donald is completely opposite, and Cage does a fantastic job of keeping both brothers uniquely separate while showing a love and compassion between them that is both comic and touching. One of the most compelling parts of this film is how Cage establishes and maintains a unique and endearing innocence in both brothers.

This is a film that gets under your skin and stays with you long after you leave the theater. Indeed, its creative energy has the power to change you if youíre open to that evolution.

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