Sunday, March 6, 2011

"The Adjustment Bureau"

Well, what do you know? I kept up with my attempt to review two movies this weekend. I had to do it at an extremely late show... but at least things went according to plan.

If only everything could go according to plan... Or is that always a good thing?

Well... in the context of today's movie, it may not be a good thing.

The Adjustment Bureau

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a politician who, on the night that he loses his Senate bid, meets the astonishingly beautiful Elise (Emily Blunt). After inspiring to change his speech after he loses the election, they just so happen to meet by chance on the bus the next day, and love blossoms between them. But then the Adjustment Bureau, an agency that may or may not be beyond comprehension that basically runs the world, steps into his life through chance. As they relentlessly attempt to keep David and Elise apart in order to stick to 'the plan', David finds that he must fight for what feels natural between him and Elise.

And it gets into all sorts of crazy from there.

I guess I'll start with a major problem I had with the movie: its tone. Throughout the first half of the movie, it really fights with itself over what tone it wants to have. Certain parts that should be intimidating or even frightening are played a little too much in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, and oftentimes it'll never fully realize just how nihilistic its premise actually is. Tonally, it finally gets its act together in time for the really tough stuff to go through, but until the second half of the movie its tone is fairly uneven. It doesn't help that the ending is something of a minor let-down; I can't really see it ending any other way given what happens before, but it doesn't really feel very gratifying nevertheless.

But there's really a key element here that absolutely must work, or it would drag the whole movie down with it: the romance between David and Elise absolutely must be believable. And fortunately for us, the movie gets this much right. It's a little tough to see how David and Elise can fall in love after only one meeting unless you believe in love at first sight, but Matt Damon and Emily Blunt share incredible chemistry whenever they appear together on-screen. Yes, their love is a little preposterous, but with Damon and Blunt we really do get the all-important sense that they belong together even despite what the titular bureau might think will work best according to the plan.

As a result, a huge part of the rest of the movie clicks into place. Damon and Blunt share chemistry, so we actually want them to end up together by the time the movie runs its course. And it gives the whole enterprise its sense of excitement. It helps that it uses a very interesting visual style: the cinematographer will usually take angles that will increase our sense of paranoia, and while the tonal shifts usually threaten that, the style works.

The only thing that really needs to work about The Adjustment Bureau is that the two leads must share chemistry, and thanks to the fact that Damon and Blunt do share chemistry a large part of the rest of the movie works as well. Tonally, it needed a little more consistency to match the more nihilistic undertones of the story, but as a whole the movie still works. And it is quite a ride.


Most definitely worth checking out.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews. I'll see you guys next time.

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