Written by Films

Adaptation

I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed Being John Malkovich a couple of years ago or so, and Spike Jonze is still on something of a roll. Jackass is his baby, and he seems to have several other irons in the fire.
So I was quite impatient to see Adaptation. It begins with the a credit sequence over a black screen, as Nicolas Cage’s Charlie Kaufman tries to convince himself – unsuccessfully – that he is successful.
Then we cut to a piece of video diary supposedly shot on the Beinng John Malkovich shoot. Charlie Kaufman, the author of this screenplay was also author of that one. So he’s written himself a part in his own film… That’s just the beginning. He’s adapting a book called The Orchid Thief – a real book about a real character who did indeed go about stealing orchids.
So far, so confusing. Then we’re introduced for his twin brother (played also by Cage) who gets the girls and is busy trying his own hand at this screenwriting lark. He even attends lectures given by Robert McKee (a real life screenplay lecturer, although here played by Brian Cox). His hackneyed thriller ideas go down well, while the tortured genius struggles to make a screenplay from the book about flowers.
At this point I think I’ll give up trying to summarise the plot, and just report on the film. I enjoyed it immensely and it is one of those few films that do give you something to think about. It’s safe to say that the ending goes off course a little, but nonetheless, I’ll forgive a few things like that for a script such as this one.
One final point: the film’s screenplay is credited to both Charlie Kaufman and his brother Donald. Does the real Charlie have a real brother? And what do the Screenwriting Guild in Hollywood make of all this?