Adaptation Spike Jonze

Adaptation Spike Jonze
The first viewing of Adaptation is akin to the first sips of champagne — it all seems so head-spinningly fun, the bubbles tickly and effervescent, a heady high of giddy delicious delight. It's difficult to not get caught up in the very conceptual thrill of this Charlie Kaufman-penned, Spike Jonze-directed masterpiece. Kaufman the screenwriter, in an attempt to adopt Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief, creates a film in which a writer named Charlie Kaufman gets caught up in adapting The Orchid Thief, and the struggle helps him bond with his (fictional) twin brother Donald and face his writing demons. Nicolas Cage does career-defining work as both Kaufman brothers, while in only his second feature, Spike Jonze demonstrates a remarkable narrative skill. While his first film, Being John Malkovich, was a showy look-at-me effort that made the director a star, with Adaptation, he stands back and lets the premise and the performances (especially of Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep) do the work for him, even as he deftly ducks and weaves his way through this structurally impossible tale. The first look at this film is all post-modern trickery, the smoke and mirrors of multilayered meaning, especially as the disparate writing approaches of Donald and Charlie merge during the film's "does it work?" third act. But on repeat viewings, what Adaptation reveals is what you bring to it — sit back and enjoy the dusty side roads of interpretation that spring forth. Explore the parallels between pollinating orchids and Charlie's attempt to bring Orlean's book to the screen. (Does that make Donald a bee?) Marvel at the metaphysical relationship and split personalities of Charlie and Donald (on film), Charlie and Spike (off camera) and Nic Cage and himself — the possibilities are endless. Add to that the layers of Streep and Cooper taking The Orchid Thief's protagonists, writer Orlean and subject John Laroche, and teasing them out to Hollywood's most logical conclusion. The complete lack of extras (I'm sorry, trailers don't count) is at first a huge disappointment for Adaptation fans. It may just be a delayed tease on the studio's part before a two-disc "special edition" arrives, but there's method behind this lack of behind-the-scenes madness. Before you delve into what happened to get it here, the here itself — the intricate, interwoven meanings of Adaptation — will cross-pollinate and blossom before you just from viewing the film itself. Extras: none. (Columbia)