March 08, 2011

MOVIES: The Adjustment Bureau (George Nolfi, 2011)

The Adjustment Bureau is the latest in the long line of movies based on stories by Philip K. Dick (this one, very loosely indeed, taking not much more than the basic concept and building an entirely new story around it). It's got the common Dickian theme of the paranoid guy who really is being chased by mysterious powerful forces, but this one also has a romance story that you'd be unlikely to find in Dick.

Matt Damon stars as David, a young politician who has just suffered his worst defeat when he meets Elise (Emily Blunt); there is an instant attraction between them, but they are separated before they can swap contact info. They meet by chance a few years later, but separated again; in the process, David stumbles upon the existence of the Adjustment Bureau, an army of men in fedoras whose job is to make sure that everyone's life goes according to The Plan.

David and Elise are not supposed to be together, but David refuses to give up hope, and when the two cross paths again, he decides to fight the Bureau and stay with her. (Y'know, it occurs to me that while David has no way of contacting Elise during their separations -- doesn't know her last name or phone number -- she could certainly contact him easily enough. He just ran for Senate, for god's sake, so she certainly knows his full name.)

Damon and Blunt are a very appealing couple, with strong romantic chemistry, and their relationship is the best part of the movie; I was rooting for them to survive as a couple so strongly that it carried me through some of the clunkier aspects of the plot.

Anthony Mackie, who plays the Bureau member assigned to David's case, and John Slattery as Mackie's supervisor, are also very good; Slattery has a nice dry sense of humor. (And in the suits and hats, it's almost like watching Mad Men's Roger Sterling away from the office.) The ending doesn't live up to the rest of the movie, and there is a fair amount of predictability here, but Damon and Blunt are a strong enough couple to make the movie worth seeing.

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