Sunday, March 13, 2011

andrew o'hehir on the adjustment bureau

Andrew O'Hehir dubs The Adjustment Bureau the Pick Of The Week at Bear in mind, it's a slow week. Still, kind of a fun movie. Here's an edited version of what O'Hehir had to say: if you want more, and don't mind spoilers, check out the original article.

"The Adjustment Bureau" is a science-fiction romance featuring Matt Damon and English actress Emily Blunt as a couple on the run from mysterious men with hats. Its somewhat awkward blend of Philip K. Dick-trapped-in-"The Matrix" paranoia and cut-rate Augustinian theology, feel clean and organic, if that makes any sense.

The real questions in "The Adjustment Bureau" aren't about what's happening but why the Plan apparently dictates that David and Elise must be kept apart, and whether there's anything they can do about it. Now, those questions engender other questions, and if those sound like debating points drawn from an episode of "The Twilight Zone," or a lecture by some Vatican II-style liberal theologian, you're on the right track. Have David and Elise stumbled into a Miltonic War in Heaven, in which Mitchell is playing the role of Lucifer? If we live in a universe designed by some Grand Poobah who stands outside time, is our sense of agency and free will an illusion? Etc.

OK, as you can see, either "The Adjustment Bureau" falls apart when you start to think about it, or you need to think about it a whole lot deeper and better than I just did. Nolfi makes no effort to conceal the Judeo-Christian roots of his premise (which is also true in the Philip K. Dick short story), and if you object to infusions of pop religion into your science fiction no doubt this movie will drive you nuts. But if you're looking for an end-of-winter cinematic palate cleanser that delivers a sweep-you-off-your-feet love story along with a few gooey, chewy, slightly silly philosophical niblets, then the Plan demands that you see this movie.

Adapted from a short story by Philip K. Dick, whose novel "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep" was the basis for BLADRUNNER, which also had a theological thing or two on its mind.

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