— Steven Lawrence contributed with this article
The Scottish poet, Robert Burns once wrote: “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go askew”. “The Adjustment Bureau” prompts us to question if there is such thing as fate, and if so can our “best laid schemes” ever be controlled?
Due to the way it has been advertised, one would expect that the directorial debut from George Nolfi to be one unfairly pigeon-holed with Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”.
However, even if under the inescapable shadow of Nolan, this would be too assumptive. As “The Adjustment Bureau” flourishes in its own right with its sleek, politically fueled romance and is far more a filtration of Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” than a Franz Kafka narrative.
The film, is an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story of the same name. Fans of the writers’ work will not be disappointed as it contains the accustomed elements of his tales, from alternate takes on what reality is, conspiracies and a protagonist who strives to unravel the deranged faction.
David Norris (Matt Damon) is a grounded politician attempting to run for senate, however after a calamitous campaign, he goes to prepare a speech of defeat when there is a spark meeting with spirited dancer Elise (Emily Blunt).
The instant allure between the two is seemingly predestined. But the existence of a covert organisation that align the paths of lives, in order to a “plan”, in order to prevent disasters from occurring; are beset in ensuring the relationship will end as just a chance meeting.
The film is fundamentally fueled by the fact that our lives are arranged by a clandestine cadre of shadowy business types, causes the film to have much substance.
In conjunction with Matt Damon’s performance in a role that is far from the days of Bourne, and the on-screen chemistry between him and Emily Blunt means for witty dialogue.
The sharp dialogue is immersed in the sheer fervor of its characters. As a result, the film is a far less suspense filled thriller than the trailer might suggest.
Director, George Nofli’s script is more cathartic than it is of tension, like most will probably anticipate. However, this is not to unfairly compare the film at all to that of “Inception”, because the film stands on its own as a tremendous film.
The Adjustment Bureau’s supporting cast also offer potent performances with “Mad Men”’s John Slattery, Terrence Stamp and up and coming Anthony Mackie that many might know from “The Hurt Locker”.
The romantic element of the film also provides a perhaps new dynamic to the current science fiction drama films. Whilst others might feel deflated from the lack of orotundity seen in “Inception”, the film packs a might emotional punch in a gothic New York backdrop that provides an innate atmosphere to question whether we can ever really have free will, and if our “best laid schemes” ever go to plan.