I would say “Adaptation” is required viewing for any aspiring writer, but that automatically narrows its audience down, and this is a movie with themes that extend to all walks of life. The funny thing is, John Cusack cameos in the film, and in addition to predicting the plot of his 2003 thriller “Identity,” “Adaptation” does what Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” did years before it was a twinkle in any moviegoer’s eye. It shows how the origin of life, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and four billion and forty years of evolution have all been leading up to the existence of one sweaty, balding, anxiety-ridden man.
As Charlie wrestles with adapting a book about flowers — a book without a story — he wants to just keep it about flowers and not sexy it up with drugs or car chases. Yet before the movie is over, we may see some of that. His happy-go-lucky twin, Donald, a living “Casablanca” tribute, decides to write his own script full of overused ideas like serial killers and dissociative identity disorder.
With his own adaptation, Charlie’s determined to “let the movie exist rather than be artificially plot-driven.” He calls out cliches like characters breaking out in pop songs, then sets about breaking his own rules because, at the end of the day, there really are no rules to break, just guidelines.
As Charlie’s unwieldy adaptation balloons into something that will “tie all of history together,” it becomes the very opposite of one that’s secretarial, with him putting more of himself into it and making it a personal thing. At times, he works himself up into a state of creative hysteria, only to sober up later and shake his head in grief as he listens to his own recorded ramblings.
/Film – ‘Slash Film: The Daily Stream: Adaptation Is A Way Of Life’
Author: Joshua Meyer
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January 13, 2023