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June 21, 2011

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DVD of the Week – Review of The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

by NIR SHALEV

Matt Damon plays David Noris, a man running for senate in New York. On the eve of the election he meets Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a mysterious, attractive woman, but loses contact with her and inadvertently, he also loses the election. The film then jumps forward a few years and David is running for the same position, this time with a greater possibility of winning. He accidentally runs into Elise again but is determined to remain with her even if it means losing the election again. That’s when he meets a group of strangers, all wearing fedoras and whom have the ability to travel anywhere they want using a special key to open any and every door in the city.

The “strangers” are able to stop time and rearrange certain people’s thoughts and personalities because they have a timeline for almost everyone in the world and they must stick to them. David is destined to become a senator and, possibly the President of the United States but Elise is not a part of his timeline. Their accidental meetings were not supposed to happen and the story of the film invites the notion that everything is predetermined. However, unlike in the standard philosophical ideal of predetermination these “strangers” make sure that things happen in accordance with the timelines.

David doesn’t like the fact that he cannot be with Elise, the thought that he’s not “supposed” to be with her, and that the “strangers” can force him to keep quiet for the rest of his life. The more he bumps into her and the more that he involves her in his life the more a chase begins to straighten and fix David’s “proper” timeline, the one that doesn’t contain Elise.

The Adjustment Bureau for the most part is a romantic comedy with shades of philosophy. The chases that take place all around Manhattan are rather neat but the film plays it safe and sticks to being a nice, sweet film. I hadn’t watched a good romantic comedy in many years until I’d watched The Adjustment Bureau. This is a film that I recommend because the performances in it are solid, even while the actors wink at the audience, it’s a good looking film, and it tells a nice love story. Damon and Blunt have so much chemistry that the film is worth watching just for their mundane conversations. They don’t portray their characters with theatrics but rather with the standard conversations that a new couple has and it’s rather adorable.

The Adjustment Bureau is very loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story The Adjustment Team and the screenplay’s written and directed by George Nolfi. He also wrote the screenplay to The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), but unlike Paul Greengrass’ film this one is very visibly coherent. It doesn’t suffer from the shaky camera syndrome (utilizing a tripod can save a film!) and it lets the actors create the situations in which they need to use their brains, and hearts, to escape from the bad guys and hopefully live happily ever after.

The Blu-ray contains a commentary track with the writer/director; deleted and extended scenes; Labyrinth of Doors, a Google Earth type of interface that takes the audience on a wormhole trip through Manhattan; Leaping through New York, a behind the scenes featurette that talks of the location shoots; Destined to Be, a featurette where Damon and Blunt talk about their characters and their love story; and Becoming Elise, a featurette showcasing Blunt and her training to play a ballet dancer in the film.

Other new releases this week: Cedar Rapids, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, The Eagle, Unknown


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 21 2011

    I’d read in another review that this was actually a pretty good romantic comedy, but that apparently the studio tried to market it as some sort of heavy, “Matrix-y” drama. That’s the feel I took away from seeing a trailer a while back. I’ll work a viewing in sometime soon.

  2. Jun 21 2011

    That’s the feeling that I got when viewing the trailer for the first time, also. But after reading certain reviews here and there I knew that somewthing was up. And when I watched it I realized what critics were talking about. It’s not a mind bending sci-fi thriller but rather a sweet film that utilizes the predetermination theory, flips it on its head and brings it all down to a story about true love.
    And it’s not Matrix-y at all, it’s almost rerived entirely from Dark City. :O)

    I also read recently that when the film was initially shown to a test audience they were very upset with its “downer” ending and so the studio reshot the ending and that’s the one that we have today. It’s not a spoiler, I’m just reassuring all that this is a very nice, sweet film.

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