By Andrea Karen Hammer
Adaptation, the movie based on the Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, is an interesting study for screenwriters trying to solve script complexities.
Viewers follow the frustrations of Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) who is struggling to adapt a story about hunting for orchids, which he thinks has little structure or action for the big screen. Compounding the problem are the screenwriter’s dual personalities–taking visible form as his fictional and more successful brother Donald–in scenes with the actor mystifyingly appearing in both roles simultaneously. The constant shots of Nicholas Cage as a dispirited, sweat-drenched self-doubter starkly contrast with his jovial and confident side–creating an unsettling dichotomy throughout the film.
Meryl Streep’s Chameleon-Like Ability to Transform Herself Into Diverse Characters
Playing The New Yorker writer Susan Orlean, Meryl Streep is, once again, a marvel to watch. With internal conflicts and competing emotions conveyed wordlessly across her face, Meryl Streep remains one of the most talented and accomplished actresses of our time. Although some uncharacteristic and disturbing scenes produce first-time images in her vast repertoire, they reveal a chameleon-like ability to transform herself into diverse characters.
Chris Cooper Reveals Internally Crushed but Externally Rough-Edged Persona in Award-Worthy Performance
As the generally unlikable and mostly toothless John Laroche, Chris Cooper delivers an award-winning performance. The too-far-under-the-radar actor from The Horse Whisperer deserves major recognition for his consistently solid and quietly stirring performances, which add depth and richness to every film project. In Adaptation, Chris Cooper‘s ability to expose Laroche’s underlying fragility and passion for orchids through his externally rough-edged persona is absolutely remarkable.
Instructive Film-Viewing Experience Despite Disjointed Time Sequences and Other Flaws
Although learning about black-market orchid hunters is an eye opener, various elements in this movie remain disjointed. Along with the flawed execution of showing the two sides of Charlie, the presence of the screenwriter in the actual story is also distracting and forced. The constantly alternating time sequences throughout the film–with sudden jumps forward and back in time–contribute to a lack of cohesiveness.
Despite these drawbacks leading to a lack of integration and complete absorption in the movie, Adaptation offers an instructive film-viewing experience for screenwriters and movie lovers. The effort to implement new film techniques and unusual storytelling approaches is worthy of watch time and contemplation.
Your Thoughts and Comments About the Movie Adaptation
Do you think that the various elements and storylines were effective in this film? Why or why not? Did you prefer Orchid Thief or Adaptation? Explain why you think the book or movie works best and why.
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