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Wadrick's Celluloid Dungeon

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery & Terence Stamp.
Written & Directed by George Nolfi.

Congressman David Norris (Damon) meets a beautiful woman (Blunt) on election night, with whom he shares an instant attraction. Trouble is, he was never meant to meet her as the world and its inhabitants have a pre-ordained path through life. This is enforced by the enigmatic members of the Adjustment Bureau who are working to the plan outlined by their mysterious Chairman. Adjustments are needed to set Norris back on track, but when he doesn’t accept his fate, things begin to unravel. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why The Adjustment Bureau fails as a film. Based on the Philip K. Dick story ‘Adjustment Team’, George Nolfi’s adaptation is, from memory, quite faithful to the source material. But like many of the works of author Stephen King that have been translated to the screen, something goes awry. Perhaps it is the simple fact that some novels and short stories are not suited to celluloid treatment. But why is that? Is it that the nuance of the written pages can never be completed realised on screen? Those insights of character that can only be illustrated in the complexities of the written word, not in the visual medium of film? Hell, I don’t know. I’ve pondered this before and still I don’t know. One thing I do know is that there is a serious lack of tension in this film that can only be blamed on the lack of experience of first-time director Nolfi – best known as the writer of Richard Donner’s Timeline and co-writer of The Bourne Ultimatum. To call his directing style ‘flat’ is a necessary insult; more to the point, any semblance of a ‘style’ is conspicuously absent (but that’s not to say that Nolfi is any kind of slouch; he’ll get better). There is a 1950s aesthetic at work here, but it rarely succeeds at being anything but an aesthetic for its own sake. The actors certainly cannot be blamed – Matt Damon is as effortlessly natural as ever, and Emily Blunt is, frankly, quite gorgeous in her role. Their chemistry is undeniable. The supporting cast, including Mad Men‘s John Slattery and Terence Stamp who supplies his typical gravitas, are all good. In the end, however, The Adjustment Bureau is a disappointment that can unfortunately be placed on the ugly shelf of failed Dick adaptations such as Paycheck, Next and A Scanner Darkly.

by Wadrick Jones

Pics: filmofilia.com; trespassmag.com; connect.in.com; cmaquest.com


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  1. Well at least Nolfi did his best. But his best isn’t good enough. Better luck next time.
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    Posted by Richard | July 19, 2011, 4:27 pm
  2. Yep it went straight to my “ugly shelf” as well…too bad i was expecting something special
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    Posted by ella | July 20, 2011, 5:53 am
  3. I quite understand you. Measure thrice and cut once😐

    Posted by Tyler Dean | July 20, 2011, 1:09 pm
  4. This is a good story with undeniably romantic attraction yet mysteriously plotted scenes. But I have to agree with you that there is a serious lack of tension in this film. I’m not sure what part of the film caused it to be a bit sluggish but it’s somewhere between the affection of the 2 main characters and the world outside them. I don’t know, but I think you are right too, maybe we can blame it on the lack of experience of first-time director Nolfi.
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    Posted by Suzan@Premier Marketing Tools | July 22, 2011, 5:02 pm

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