Thursday, January 12, 2012
Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
A though-provoking science fiction drama examining the themes of destiny and free will, The Adjustment Bureau is smart, intriguing and visually attractive.
The agents of the Adjustment Bureau, including Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) and Richardson (John Slattery), are responsible to make sure that pre-determined destinies are fulfilled. But when Mitchell falls asleep on the job, David and Elise have another chance encounter on a bus, and their mutual attraction grows. Worse still, David stumbles onto members of the Bureau at work, exposing their existence. For reasons that David only gradually begins to understand, the Bureau needs to prevent the inadvertent romance from blossoming, and eventually the heartless agent Thompson (Terence Stamp) is summoned to help split the couple up.
Prior to that ending, writer and first-time director George Nolfi, working from a Phillip K. Dick short story, constructs an elaborate debate about destiny and free will, David Norris a victim of a destiny that excludes falling in love with Elise, no matter how hard he tries to pursue her. The distinctively dressed agents employed by the Adjustment Bureau, with their particularly fetching hats, are an astute representation of the forces of destiny conspiring to manage events according to a pre-determined but poorly understood plan, while the passion waiting to take hold between David and Elise provides a worthy test of life's predetermined paths.
As the would-be lovers testing the bounds of free will, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt develop an immediate chemistry, his Congressman and her dancer a study in two different people immediate recognizing that they were meant for each other. Their scenes together leave no doubt that their souls are intertwining in joint readiness for a life-altering battle against the forces of normalcy.
Not unexpectedly, Nolfi ultimately manages to have it both ways by demonstrating both the strength of the pre-paved road and the courage of conviction needed to carve a new one. The Adjustment Bureau is a challenge to deal with, but then so is life.
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