Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is a film based on a Philip K Dick short story (which I haven't read): The Adjustment Team. It stars Matt Damon, who I really rate, and there are cameos from a bunch of American political types like Jon Stewart and Jesse Jackson. Unfortunately it is pretty weak, particularly towards the end.

There are films like No Country for Old Men or Blue Velvet where the metaphysics is implicit, seething underneath a relatively mainstream story. And then there are films like this where the metaphysics is front-loaded - other examples are Inception and The Matrix parts 2 and 3. On the whole I generally prefer my metaphysics lurking underneath the story. For one thing I think so much about reality can not be expressed in words, and so it has to be indicated obliquely. Saying things, having systems and representations, is a bit duff. Having characters describe 'the nature of reality', with reaction shots, doesn't really cut it.

This is the extreme of that case, with cinematic tricks used to present a bland glossy metaphysics. Although everything (I don't think this is a spoiler - we are in PKD territory) you have been told is a lie, and you are being manipulated by great forces which have obliterated your self and your freedom, there is little sense of dread or horror. It's all very reassuring and Episcopalian. There is a conflation of corporate, political, and religious hierarchy, and the overall feeling is anaesthetic. It's like The End of History by Fukuyama, made into an SF film. God has obliterated all human will, but it's probably for the best, and if you suck up to the authorities, you get favoured status.

I think those who liked Inception for its complexity will be disappointed by this, which is much simpler in structure, and those who prefer something more oblique and emotional will be very disappointed. I wasn't bored, but I don't think it's worth seeing really.
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