Friday, March 11, 2011

Opening Scenes: ‘The Adjustment Bureau’

By Chip Schrader
Movie Reviewer
“The Adjustment Bureau” begins with Matt Damon standing alone in a cathedral like room with the light seeping through ornate windows. The key words are “Next Senator David Norris” as a montage showing dailies and GQ with his face on the cover, an appearance on “The Daily Show,” and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsing him all accompanied by Norris’ speech at a rally. The last headline to drop across the screen regards a college prank that could cost his election.
Set in New York and inside some of the most palatial buildings, “The Adjustment Bureau” follows the handsome political hopeful through the early stages of his career. But, through a misstep of chance interfering with “The Plan,” his career is sidetracked by a woman with whom he is forbidden to fall in love. The Bureau is employed, like guardian angels of a sort, to ensure that “The Plan” is followed through and properly executed. When David Norris is in the wrong place at the wrong time, he finds himself having to choose between the greatness he is fated to become or the woman he loves.
Norris is genuinely and articulately played by Matt Damon. While this role provides little challenge to Damon, he comes off naturally as the Kennedy-like politician. Elise, played by Emily Blunt, is seductive but with an organic soul. Blunt’s performance is so intimate the viewers feel they are in the room with her whenever she speaks. Like Damon’s performance, Elise is not a difficult character to manage, but Blunt brings about very natural portrayal, as well.
The characters are likeable, charming, and interesting to watch, but there is little psychology in their development. Other than loving Elise, we really aren’t shown what makes David Norris tick. We see his public side and his yearning for this woman, but we don’t see much about who David Norris really is, other than a well groomed politician with a relatively squeaky clean image. Much of the same can be said about Elise. We learn she is a passionate dancer and has a wit that equals that of Norris, but there is little development beyond that.
The wide-angle shots, visual effects, and shots from various angles are dazzling. The pacing of the film is even, but it never gets dull. While one might expect more action from a film like this, the intrigue and interplay between chance and “The Plan” are more than enough to keep the audience invested in the story. The wide-angle shots that show Norris inside a palatial room or a giant warehouse nicely parallels the concept that one man is very small portion of a much larger architecture. The imagery, setting and design are stunning!
“The Adjustment Bureau” has the soul of a classic Hitchcock thriller coupled with a postmodern edge like “North by Northwest” meets “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” The story that inspired the film came from the same author who inspired the science fiction cult classic “Blade Runner.” While this film sets its aim high, the movie falls just short of the mark needing a deeper back-story to make the need for the characters’ success more compelling. With that said, the combination of romance and intrigue make “The Adjustment Bureau” a date movie well worth the price of admission. 3.5 out of 5.
Photo caption: (Courtesy movie poster of “The Adjustment Bureau”)