The Adjustment Bureau: directed and written by George Nolfi
For a while I was confused between Source Code and The Adjustment Bureau. I vaguely remember seeing snippets of them at the beginning of the year and both seemed to tell a story about a dashing male lead a generally charming woman doing a lot of running holding hands. That sounds like a fairly snarky synopsis, but that IS what I remember. I’d hate to move into some bland platitude about how timing is everything and so on. The thing is, I’ve been having a terrible year movie-wise. My highest grade was the B I gave to Hanna and other than that it’s been fair, okay, and good-ish but nothing exceptional, or not even anything legitimately good. So, I wonder if that movie doldrums made me all the more anxious for something to latch on to. But, let me use my words…
I can’t help but roll my eyes when films try to take on larger than life issues and still be popcorn friendly and in theory that’s what The Adjustment Bureau aims to do. It’s about the age-old philosophy of Determinism. That, right there, is the impetus for thousands – perhaps millions – of literary pieces and The Adjustment Bureau immediately sets itself up for something like defeat because a film more interested in its romance arc is probably not going to do as much justice to the dilatation as it deserves. The story is David Norris (no relation to Chuck), a New York senator to be who on a fateful night meets a contemporary dancer Elis (played by the lovely Emily Blunt). It’s one of those “life-defining” moments and meeting her changes his outlook on life and politics. But, things go awry when he meets her – accidentally – some time later throwing the course of his life all track and giving the members of The Adjustment Bureau (a dubious organisation which ensures that everything happens “as it should”) decide that they shouldn’t be together.
In the end, I can’t quite surrender my over analytical brain to completely LOVING The Adjustment Bureau but I have no qualms about saying that it’s a completely enjoyable film. I’d have been more willing to buy in to its conceit if those last five minutes weren’t just too…bland? It sort of subverted what went prior, capping off a movie that seemed to be devoid of any agenda with a conclusion that isn’t woeful, but just feels tonally jerky. Which, of course, returns to the point that any film which flirts with such significant concepts must be willing to do what it promises. Still, The Adjustment Bureau thrives more than it doesn’t not only because Nolfi is in control of his story (for the most part) but because in the most innocuous of moments Damon and especially Blunt make some thrilling choices as actors that make characters we have no significant knowledge of into people we root for. Maybe I didn’t fall in love with it, but I fell in like…a lot.