5 October 2003 | bob the moo
For me, it's uniqueness was both it's making and it's undoing
Following his success as screenwriter for 'Being John Malcovich', Charlie Kaufman is given the job of adapting Susan Orlean's book 'The Orchid Thief' which she expanded from a piece in The New Yorker that she wrote on the obsessive orchid hunter John Laroche. While Charlie struggles to adapt the book into a workable film, his twin brother, Donald, writes a successful script around serial killers. The more Charlie struggles to get a story from the book the more the stories and his life start to intertwine.
I wanted to see this film because I had enjoyed BJM and was interested to see what Jonze did next. I came to it with a vague knowledge of the plot but nowhere near enough o have expectations. For the majority of the film, the different style and presentation kept me deeply interested. The way the different stories occurred in different times and places worked a lot better than I would have expected it to. The plot gets increasingly difficult to follow and you'll get as much as you want from it. For those just looking for a simple story then you'll have a nice neat resolution, if you want more then more is there for you as you try to work out what part of the film is real and what part isn't.
I came away with mixed feelings. I felt that the ending was not as clever as it thought it was and didn't give a good ending for those who weren't happy to accept things at face value. I didn't feel let down I just felt that the last section of the film stepped down a gear rather than up. I know that this is the point that Jonze was making perhaps, by allowing Donald's derided ending come to live and be the replacement for Charlie's original aim. But it didn't totally do it for me. Up till this section I was hooked and felt that the various stories all worked to form a mix of drama and comedy. However the end does a disservice to it's characters.
Cage shows that the recent cr*p he has been in doesn't mean he can't act (just that he doesn't). He really brings his two characters to life and plays them so well that it is easy to forget that it is the same person in both roles. Cooper is wonderful and deserved his Oscar for support. Streep, as much as I dislike her, was very good and brought that difficult character out although I did feel she was the one most betrayed by the film's end.
Overall this was an interesting film that worked in most areas. It's difference and it's inventiveness were such that I wanted to keep watching. However I, and I know others will disagree, felt that this uniqueness was not well served by the end of the film. I understand that it was not meant to exist in the same way as the majority of the film but I still felt that the ending didn't meet the standard set by the rest of the film.