Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau (2011) – Review

The Adjustment Bureau is a good romance with thriller and sci-fi(ish) overtones that succeeds due to wonderful chemistry from its leads and well played scenes. Overall, the narrative structure that writer-director George Nolfi employs in the film drags a bit. The film does not feel as fluid as it should and thus can seem longer than it is (or even boring in the worst case). However, this is really only a minor issue, as the dialogue he writes and performances he garners on a scene-by-scene basis are really good. Stars, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt work incredibly well together, and really drive the film and engage the audience. They feel real and relatable. The audience not only is invested in their romance but wants to see it succeed and is thus enthralled (which is the main reason this film works, I think, despite being structured poorly). The romance is genuine and Nolfi somehow is able to avoid the clichés that plague modern and Hollywood cinema when love as a genre or theme is involved. The thriller and sci-fi aspects of the film also engages the audience, setting up obstacles for the characters. It is not overly suspenseful, giving much more attention to the characters and romance, but the action scenes are staged well. The sci-fi element is a little soft, (for me) it seems to play a lot more whimsical and theological or myth based than (what I would consider) sci-fi, though this does not hurt the film at all – in fact, I think it makes it all the more interesting. The main theme of the film is predetermination versus free will (or chance). The world of the film is made up of both, Adjusters only interfering on selected important people and moments. What Nolfi does really well is not deliver these (seeming theological) overtones in a heavy-handed or forced manner. Nolfi does not have a particular agenda or set of beliefs he is trying to force-feed the audience (which is nice for a change). The world he has created (of course based on that of Philip K. Dick’s short story) feels real, even amidst these extraordinary events (as the audience accepts the world and the revelations that the characters have about whom and what is controlling elements of their lives), because they care about the characters. It is better to let each viewer infer and project what they think things mean than explicitly compel them upon the audience. Altogether, The Adjustment Bureau is a good film, with enough action mixed in to entertain those not looking to watch a pure romance – call it a romantic thriller (and did I mention it is funny too? It is).

Technical and acting achievements: George Nolfi (who wrote The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this film. He shows a lot of promise as a director with very good performances across his cast and well-staged and played scenes. However, he needs to work on his narrative structure, as it is the weak part of the film (and really the toughest to get right). I look forward to seeing what he does next. Thomas Newman’s score fits the film very well, touching on all three major genres. Cinematographer John Toll (as usual) does fine work, both in making Blunt look amazing and giving the film a crisp and aesthetically interesting look. His work is among the best I have seen so far this year. Editor Jay Rabinowitz also needs to be commended for his work. This film, with its quickly changing landscapes, demanded fantastic editing, and got it. Kevin Thompson’s production design is also good, fitting the narrative well while taking advantage of the NYC local. The cast is small with only a few principal characters, but each actor gives a very good performance. Terence Stamp, Michael Kelly and especially Anthony Mackie deliver in their supporting roles. John Slattery (also in a supporting role) is a standout, however, bringing a seemingly carefree and playful attitude to the role that is a nice touch and refreshing. The film, though, largely succeeds to the extent that it does (i.e. is a great film, vs. the good to decent film it probably otherwise would have been) due primarily to the work of its two leads, Damon and Blunt. They are both perfect in their roles. They feel real and endearing, completely commanding the audience’s attention (and hearts). Their love is natural and certain.

With remarkable performances and chemistry from Damon and Blunt, added to an interesting story, The Adjustment Bureau makes for a great romance that guys will like too. 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment