Thursday, 2 April 2015

Adaptation (5 Stars)

"You are what you love, not what loves you" (Donald Kaufman).

This is probably the cleverest film ever made. Note that I didn't say the best. Whether or not you like it will depend on whether or not you like intelligent films. A film that just uses action to entertain the audience isn't necessarily a bad film. I enjoy action films. Some films go halfway by containing deep philosophical thoughts or political messages. Good films as well. But then there's "Adaptation". From the beginning to the end it sets out to puzzle the viewer. It's a true story. It's also a work of fiction. But where is the dividing line? When the film reaches its final scene where the film's screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, dictates what he's doing into a voice recorder we still don't know where to draw the line between fiction and reality.

Basically, the film is about Charlie Kaufman writing the screenplay of a film about himself writing a screenplay about himself. That would be enough in itself to make most people's head spin, but the confusion runs deeper. Charlie Kaufman -- the real Charlie Kaufman who wrote "Adaptation" -- would be a psychiatrist's dream patient. In the film he invents a twin brother who is his complete opposite, then kills him and gives him the credit for writing his screenplay. That's not just in the film, or in the film about the film, it's in real life. Donald Kaufman, a man who has never existed, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003, making him the only person ever to be nominated for an Academy Award who didn't exist. After killing his brother Charlie becomes his brother.

This is a film that deserves a full psycho-analytical analysis. I'm afraid to attempt it myself, because I'm sure that whatever I write I'll look at it a week later and realise that I've left out half of the film's meaning.

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