Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adaptation. A-

Nicholas Cage's performances in the least ten years have been of variable quality at best. His career has really gotten worse since he's decided to become an action star ('National Treasure' and 'Bangkok Dangerous' are examples) and so I think we tend to forget that he's actually an amazing actor. If Cage can get the right part he's as good as the best, as exemplified with his incredible work in 'Adaptation.' Cage really made the movie for me. He was sad, funny, pathetic, and strikingly human. He plays Charlie Kaufman (who wrote the movie) and his fake twin brother Donald. But it's Charlie who gets the real focus. He's struggling to adapt a book written by Susan Orlean (Merryl Streep). Chris Cooper plays John, a character in Susan's book. The film, directed by Spike Jonze and written by Kaufman, tells the stories of these three people and how they ultimately collide in a somewhat silly finish. I found the scenes with Streep and Cooper to be solid, but not great. What I loved was Cage's screen time. Watching him suffer through writer's block and deal with his happy-go-lucky twin brother was interesting and funny and when it needs to be, incredibly insightful. While Charlie was definitely the stronger of the two characters, Donald was the one who really made me laugh. He doesn't have his brother's talent, but everything always seems to go the way he wants it to. While Charlie is struggling with his adaptation, Donald is working on a really stupid-sounding thriller screenplay. The only thing I didn't like about 'Adaptation' was the ending. It results in a chase in the fetid waters of a swamp and it struck me as silly not nearly as intelligent as the rest of the movie. But not to worry. The rest of the film compensates for this flaw, and if you're not a stickler like I am, then it probably won't even bother you at all.

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