Adaptation. (2002) – Being Charlie Kaufman

Charlie Kaufman is an awkward guy you met in school but you never know what’s inside his head. We never know whether he really smoked weed every day when writing the script of this film or this is just the contents of his head. Inadvertently, he wrote “Adaptation”. But, I actually want to know what he ate every day. The ideas he always put in his script are always surreal but comical. “Being John Malkovich” has made everything interesting. What about “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” through its mindblowing yet unique romance story? This film is also the second collaboration from Kaufman and Spike Jonze after the Malkovich.

“Adaptation” is a “biopic”. It combines fiction, recollection, and meta-narrative from the author himself, Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman. Charlie received an offer to adopt a non-fiction book by Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean titled “The Orchid Thief”. Charlie has a twin brother, Donald Kaufman, played by Cage too. He wanted to be a screenwriter. In this case, Charlie experienced a writer’s block. While his intention is to make a different scenario from most mainstream films, he prefers simplicity. Charlie also has a problem socializing with the people around him including the woman he loves. On the other hand, the conflict came from Susan Orlean. At first, Susan tried to extract the story of an orchid hunter, Chris Cooper as John Laroche. However, Susan experienced a close relationship that exceeded the relationship between the material and the writer.

This film is an adaptation, a meta from the meta itself that’s conveyed unconventionally in a conventional way. Whether it’s an adaptation in any form, clearly this is about adaptation. Adaptation is the adaptation of the movie itself. Besides having a non-linear flow, the main focus lies in Charlie trying to adapt the book. At a glance, “Adaptation” is a film about the kind of writer’s block like “Barton Fink”. However, in contrast to the validity of the Coen brothers, the film described it as “non-existent”. Indeed, you might find innuendo from the source and the writer. Resource and writers must have their essence so that they are able to capture the original story from its adaptation.

In addition, you might also find stories about other people’s perspectives. Like for example, Susan who changed her perspective on Laroche. Suddenly, the parasite in Susan’s heart became a passion that was extraordinarily strong. Charlie’s relationship with Donald is also completely opposite. Charlie thinks Donald is an amateur writer who has no ability at all. In the end, Donald was the one who achieved his success. And by the way, I love the Oscar called Donald Kaufman also in the nomination. In fact, Donald Kaufman is a fictional character in this film.

“Adaptation” is a drama dark comedy film about writer’s block. However, sudden changes at the end of the film were so drastic and tense. I never knew that this would be a thriller movie. In fact, Brian Cox as Robert McKee had said that making a film may have flaws in the beginning and the middle. But, the movie must end with surprised but never put Deux Ex Machina. This film also seems to be Charlie’s own alter ego in both fiction and reality. They both have a backward characteristic that’s not always the same. Donald is easy going while Charlie is always uncomfortable with his presence. Donald is also like a metaphor and a driver for finding stories and scenarios without this conflict. So be “Adaptation” begins with nothing and ends with nothing.

It’s like you never realized you were watching a biopic. On the other hand, this is not biopic because it mixes something real and unreal. Sure, they have behind-the-scenes footage of “Being John Malkovich” and tells the story of the author himself. However, this isn’t a biopic but a story about Kaufman himself who doesn’t know what to write in this movie. But, this is a movie. You’re watching a movie, you’re not watching “The Orchid Thief”, you’re watching a movie now. I just feel sad about Nicolas Cage. Just like Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey, it’s like Hollywood doesn’t expect anything from them. In this film, Nicolas Cage gave his best performance as a dual personality. Meryl Streep is so marveling, Chris Cooper, and Tilda Swinton as Valerie Thomas, and Brian Cox as the douchebag.

I don’t know what to say about this movie. I also don’t know how to put it in a review and writing. With such a unique premise, “Adaptation” is brilliantly a great movie that tells about writer’s block in an unconventionally way. It’s like a confusion that’s whether this is real or fiction. Obviously, you are watching this film while. The acting especially Streep and Cage are so phenomenal especially Cage as two characters. So, how do you close this? It might sound like this: “Adaptation” is a recommended movie.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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