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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Adaptation

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep
Director: Spike Jonze
Rated: R
RunTime: 120 Minutes
Release Date: January 2003
Genres: Comedy, Drama

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

If you were intrigued by the existential black comedy "Being John Malkovich," this is a 'must see.' Written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze, it's a convoluted story-within-a-story, revolving around a frustrated, self-obsessed screenwriter who is so agonized that he develops a split personality. Successful yet insecure Charlie (Nicolas Cage) is struggling to adapt Susan Orlean's non-fiction book, "The Orchid Thief," into a movie script and still maintain his artistic integrity, while his twin Donald (also Cage) becomes his self-confident, glib alter ego. Eventually, reality and fiction collide when Charlie goes to New York to interview Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) and winds up tracking her into the Florida Everglades, where she's developed a relationship with an obsessive orchid hunter, John Laroche (Chris Cooper). And Donald follows along. It's an eccentric, intriguing mystery until, unexpectedly, it erupts into drug-induced sex-and-violence. The unconventional, semi-real narrative structure is intricately woven and the acting is amazing. Nicolas Cage is convincing in dual personas, and Meryl Streep embodies the New Yorker journalist who's discovered an irresistibly intriguing tale to tell. But Chris Cooper ("The Patriot," "The Bourne Identity") steals the story. Even minus his front teeth, he oozes charisma. And Brian Cox scores as real-life screenwriting-coach Robert McKee. Look for clever Charlie Kaufman to earn another Oscar nomination for this unique, audacious screenplay that not only examines the need for passion in our lives but also challenges how everything/everyone must adapt to survive in the world. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Adaptation" is an ingenious, imaginative, adventurous 9. But I wish they'd kept "The Orchid Thief" as the title.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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