You move through a movie and its landscapes as if you’re led to an unknown place in the dark. Meanwhile, all your senses are heightened and your sense perceptions vigilant.
Watching Adaptation felt a lot like this. It has a bold start; fragile in its making that could just as easily have broken the film but instead, it deepens it. And as the film progresses, you’re taken on a rollercoaster through myriad stops that contradict each other. But one thing remains consistent; Kaufman’s abysmal integrity with his own truth. And yet there’s resistance and you’re not quite sure what it is.
While Charlie Kaufman struggles to write, the story draws a parallel by portraying the life of his twin brother, Donald Kaufman, doing the exact opposite. In much the same way, Susan Orlean struggles to find her passion when she interviews John Laroche for an article for The New York Times who is her antithesis.
This contradiction keeps the film intense and surprising. Even if, halfway through the film, you happen to draw your conclusions about the ending. Most likely, it’s not what you think. Cleverly executed, there’s no telling how far Nicolas Cage can embrace his characters; both Charlie to Donald to Charlie again in a series of praiseworthy setups. And Meryl Streep who you can’t help but love but hate at the same time holds every scene immaculately by being herself.
What stood out most in Adaptation was the constant disagreement between action and inaction. This one time, I’d make an exception to “it’s what you see that counts.” Because to watch it is to see what the makers behind the film want to show you. Which, in its diversified and courageous ways, is conclusively the real success story.