Mar. 10, 2011 - Issue #803 : A city by the people
The Adjustment Bureau
David Norris (Matt Damon) is running for New York Senate when he runs into Elise (Emily Blunt), a dancer. They fall for each other but are separated by fate, literally, when David discovers that trenchcoat-and-fedora-wearing adjusters from a life-overseeing bureau rig many of the little mishaps and run-ins in our lives.
Based on a Philip K Dick story, the movie could have stumbled between Sliding Doors and The Truman Show. But the spark between David and Elise (Blunt plays her with a charming cheekiness) grounds the film's premise in a sudden romance that's further electrified by the charge of philosophical suspense.
Here, the map of one's life—unfolding on a bureaucratic fate-adjuster's notebook through animated diagrams—is mirrored by Elise's improvisational, flowing dances and by a street-level New York where doors become portals for the adjusters as they try to shortcircuit David's pursuit of Elise. Shots of imposing buildings, grand foyers and a vast archive contain the film's collision of existential ideas: a cruel God versus benevolent guardian-angel; self-sabotage as not only cheating your potential but cheating fate; free will as an ideal to aspire to—incentive to realize our democratic potential, our people's power.
There is a certain abstract quality to The Adjustment Bureau overall, a sense that it's too cerebral and not quite down-and-dirty enough, as though Descartes tried to write Inception. And the ending's a bit anti-climactic. But there's also something really refreshing about a film that doesn't try to dumb-down or pump-up or be anything more, really, than a thrilling quest for answers to some questions that have been bending our little human minds, and lives, for millennia.
Directed by: George Nolfi
Written by: Nolfi, Philip K. Dick
Featuring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie
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