BOX OFFICE REVIEW: The Adjustment Bureau
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt fight for their love, future, and fate...
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Based on a short story by the fan-favorite, critically acclaimed writer Phillip K. Dick, writer/director George Nolfi and stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have created a masterpiece filled with intrigue, mystery, and somewhat religious themes in The Adjustment Bureau, which opened wide yesterday and is no doubt showing on a screen near you.
The Adjustment Bureau will no doubt strike a chord with moviegoers searching for meaning to not only their own lives, but also the lives of others around them. The seemingly inconsequential things which happen all around us on a daily basis as well as those life-changing moments in time which we only recognize in retrospect are addressed in this captivating study of one man, David Norris (Damon), and his pursuit of a love that's not "according to plan."
While many of us seem to think our lives have a greater meaning, some people simply know their lives make a difference. Be they community activists, teachers, minsters, mentors or leaders, those who help influence others on a daily basis know they play a part in the lives of many different people. Of course, there are then those who - quite literally - make decisions on behalf of all of us, with or without our consent. Be they Congressmen, Senators, Judges, or the President of the United States, these men and women have an almost unmeasurable amount of impact in the actions they take.
This is where we find David Norris (Damon), a young man seeking a place in Congress for the great state of New York. However, things don't go according to plan and, instead, Norris finds himself losing but in love, enthralled with a woman whom he ever so briefly meets in a bathroom. It's here we learn more about this assertive and intelligent gent as he - with brutal honesty - concedes the election and gains a level of popularity and support the likes of which any politician would kill to have.
It's this honesty, popularity and intelligence that, four years later, serve to put Norris easily in line to gain the political seat he once sought and regain his previously missed success. However, Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), the woman with whom he had such a brief encounter, suddenly reenters his life and, though not "according to plan," he finds himself taking a bus which will change the course of his life and the ways of both heaven and earth forever.
Brilliant acting by a cast which includes the likes of not only stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt but also Terrance Stamp and Anthony Mackie, The Adjustment Bureau is most a character study of our stars and how they deal with the trials, tribulations, joys, and celebrations each and every life includes. Screenwriter Nolfi does an excellent job of bringing Dick's "Adjustment Team" short story to the big screen, keeping with the original's themes and ideas while adapting the original to fit in a modern context that's audience friendly.
What's most successful about the film is its focus on the notion of free will and humanity's somewhat callous view of an all-powerful and all-knowing deity which both knows and controls each and everything we do. While none of us like to think we're being controlled, it's hard to not look over one's own life and not see subtle hints, opportunities (both missed and taken) and moments which truly shaped who we've become. While there are proponents for both free will and fate (and some for neither), The Adjustment Bureau does an outstanding job of balancing the two and never becoming preachy. Instead, the film finds us using it as a lens through which to examine the lives of the characters as well as ourselves, leaving us with plenty to contemplate following the film.
Not often are audiences treated to a film which is entertaining, exciting, thought-provoking, and intelligent. Thankfully, The Adjustment Bureau fits the bill. An enjoyable love story with hints of sci-fi and fantasy, the film is, at most and at heart, a dramatic tale of loss and love, success and failure and the search for reason and identity in each. The choice to watch it is yours; though you'll have no choice but to find it truly captivating should you do so.
The Adjustment Bureau is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image and is showing now in a theater near you.
- Jess C. Horsley