The Adjustment Bureau
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Sparks fly when ambitious politician David (Matt Damon) unexpectedly meets a stunning world-class ballerina (Emily Blunt) in the swanky men’s room of a luxurious hotel. As soon as David tries to reconnect with Elise, mysterious men begin to appear out of nowhere and hatch elaborate schemes to keep them away from each other.
Sci-fi is a double-edged sword. In capable hands, it could easily slice into the inexhaustible repository of knowledge and creativity – where innovation and critical thinking flourish. Fall into the wrong hands and its innovative tendencies could potentially butcher ‘the human touch’ and sever any semblance of emotional authenticity from the story. The key is to find a balance between absurdity and humanity.
The Adjustment Bureau is a rarity, one of the few sci-fi films that highlights the human experience instead of merely utilizing it as a plot device to propel a narrative. In other words, it’s a sci-fi movie with a heartbeat.
Matt Damon’s David is a charismatic yet down-on-his-luck congressional candidate whose chance encounter with the captivating Elise (Emily Blunt) inspires him to deliver the most heartfelt concession speech of his life – thereby changing his career trajectory. They both believe that they are soulmates, but for reasons unbeknownst to them, they are constantly being kept apart by strange men in suits playing God, interfering with their right to privacy and personal autonomy.
The heart and soul of the film, Damon and Blunt have a palpable chemistry and bring gravitas and integrity to the story. You empathize with them, understand their motives, and ultimately root for their success. They make us believe that true love, like free will, is a gift — and therefore worth fighting for.
Written and directed by George Nolfi, the film is based on the 1954 short story entitled Adjustment Team by the legendary writer Philip K. Dick. It’s a paranoia-filled movie that seamlessly incorporates elements of science fiction, spirituality, and the nature of humanity into a profoundly engrossing tale about the power of human connection and free will. There are no explosions, firefights, or highly stylized fight scenes. All the action takes place on foot, grounding it’s high-concept political drama to capture our hearts and minds. At the center of the convoluted plot are flawed characters that we can empathize with.
Wonderfully acted, expertly directed, and well-crafted, The Adjustment Bureau delivers a gratifying ending that brings closure — while encouraging us to examine our own innermost thoughts, feelings, and principles.
Photos: Universal Pictures
An underrated sci-fi gem that explores free will and the sacrifices human beings are willing to make for love, The Adjustment Bureau combines riveting dialogue with heartfelt performances and realistic action sequences, boggling the mind while tugging at the heartstrings.
A thoughtful ‘dude movie’ that is also a thoroughly enjoyable ‘date movie’. Friends and family who are fascinated with thought-provoking films and captivating love stories will also enjoy it, as will anyone who wants to explore the conflict between freedom of choice and predestination.
In an ultimate flex of personal agency, Emily Blunt willed the Elise role into existence. According to an interview with Female.com.au, George Nolfi mentioned that he originally wanted a real dancer to play the role of Elise so she could provide a balance to David’s structured, political world. The production even auditioned hundreds of dancers from around the world. Blunt, however, derailed their ‘predestined plans.’ As soon as she read the script, she instinctively knew that she was meant to play the part. “I called my agent and said this is tricky stuff and an actor should do it,” Blunt recalled. “If that love and that relationship doesn’t work, you don’t have a movie. That’s what I said to George Nolfi, rather boldly, and he agreed.”
“In one meeting, Emily Blunt completely derailed my plans for casting the role,” Nolfi confessed. “She came in and read with Matt Damon. We filmed the whole thing, and you could just tell.”