The Adjustment Bureau

I saw this at LSC this summer, which should give you an idea of how far behind I am on my reviews. It seems that pretty much every Philip K. Dick story’s been (at least ostensibly) turned into a film by now; I’m not sure how faithful the plot is to this one but its style and theme seem to be reasonably Dickian. Cinematographically I was taken by this one: the transitions surrounding the “doors” and the sense of a large city obstructing Norris’s progress is well-done and goes beyond the prosaic to give a certain sense of the strange. The themes are a bit heavy-handed with all the religious images and nattering about free-will, but where things really struck me as off-putting were in characterizations. Norris and the Bureau members are well-enough done (up to a certain woodenness in Matt Damon’s acting which he never seems to quite emote his way around), but the character of Elise is a bit problematic from my point of view. We see her first in a fairly stereotypical Manic Pixie Dream Girl mode, involved in wacky trespassing hijinks and teaching our protagonist to be True To Himself and suchlike, and then, after that, we get really no development of her character at all. Norris gets to be the focus character and although we’re told that not just his future but hers is also on the line, we don’t get a real sense of her own involvement in the Big Fateful development: certainly Norris himself never actually seems to see fit to bring her in on the big picture, so the romance angle feels shallow and her own attitudes and motivation seem a bit weak, and her acquiescence to the romance at the end thus feels even a little bit deceptive: she’s not making an informed decision the way Norris is. The inequity in how the plot treats what are supposed to be the two central characters seems more than a little problematic.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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