I’m not sure how much I can say about Adaptation. It’s an extremely bizarre film that mixes real elements with imagination in a way that makes my head spins. There is some description of the plot, but I don’t think there are really spoilers. However, if you prefer to go into this movie without any idea of what it’s about, please don’t read any further.
Charlie Kaufman is a real screenwriter. His brother, Donald, is fictional. Susan Orlean is a real author, and she really did write The Orchid Thief about John Laroche, another real person. There is even a weblog about the movie on Orlean’s web site, written by Jason Kottke, a real guy who does not appear in the movie whatsoever.
It seems that Kaufman was actually hired to write a screenplay of The Orchid Thief and found himself in the same quandry that appears in the movie. This was mentioned in several reviews. The resulting film is not entirely unexpected from the author of Being John Malkovich.
Parts of the movie reminded me uncomfortably of myself. The Kaufman portrayed on screen fumbles through life, unable to reach for what he really wants. His self-doubt drives him crazy. He speaks of how nothing really happens in life, something I found depressing because I currently feel like it’s true.
That feeling aside, the movie makes some rapid turns thereafter that show Kaufman that quite the opposite is true. He thinks that no one in the book is changed, but that is because Orlean did not put the whole story in her book. Kaufman turns to his brother for advice, and Donald arrives in NYC to help him with the screenplay. Masquerading as Charlie, Donald decides that she is not telling the truth and leads Charlie on a madcap pursuit to uncover the real story. From there, the movie gets even weirder.
Adaptation will provide you with no end of food for thought. It is operatiing on so many levels that I cannot begin to process it right now. The only thing I am sure about is that now I want to read The Orchid Thief. I can’t quite say why, but I suggest you watch the movie and see what you get out of it. Maybe write back and tell me. 😉