Adaptation

Cast
Charlie/Donald Kaufman: Nicolas Cage
Susan Orlean: Meryl Streep
John Laroche: Chris Cooper
Valerie: Tilda Swinton
Robert McKee: Brian Cox
Amelia: Cara Seymour
Caroline: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman. Based on the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. Running time: 114 minutes. Rated R (for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images).

Central Theme
You are what you choose to love not what loves you, but what you choose to love can enrich or destroy your life in the way you adapt to it, so choose carefully.

Story
Susan Orlean’s best seller is based on the life of John Laroche, a poacher of endangered orchids and a man filled with a zest for life. Though a successful writer for the New Yorker and best-selling author, Orlean finds her own life lacking in passion and is fascinated with the toothless, uncouth Laroche, hoping he can somehow help her find a reason for living. The path he reveals re-energizes her, but is a destructive one threatening to ruin her career and marriage, She writes a best-seller, The Orchid Hunter which leaves out the truth about her relationship with Laroche and keeps secret the source of her newfound enthusiasm for life.

Charlie Kaufman is a screenwriter who has become so absorbed in his imaginary world he’s lost the sense of wonder of real life all around him and is immobilized, unable to forge any real relationships, or experience the joy of living. Trying to turn Orleans disingenuous book full of gaps and half-truths into a screenplay forces Charlie to come to grips with reality. His brother Donald appears to live an unexamined life, but has actually got life and love figured out and he becomes instrumental in Charlie’s discovery of hope for his own life.

Donald is working on a screenplay with the help of a screenwriting workshop taught by Robert McKee, a man Charlie is convinced is a fake. Yet, while Charlie flounders in his writing, Donald relishes every day as an opportunity to advance his completely irrational script. Finally Charlie sneaks into McKee’s workshop and afterwards a personal conversation with McKee reveals that the problem he is having with his screenplay is due to the inauthenticity of the book on which it is based. Donald convinces Charlie to let him get the true story behind the Orchid Thief, and what they find in A trip to Florida liberates Charlie, but not without a cost.

In a plot line both implausible and seductive we are drawn into a consideration of life’s meaning individually and in relationship with others and to how the adaptations we make to life and other people, shape our destiny and theirs.

Beliefs num
–A life without passion is not worth living.
–Deciding who and what to love is more important than that love reciprocating.
–Self-absorption is an example of a love that will destroy.
–What you choose to love can enrich or destroy you.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–Do most people feel a sense of desperation about life?
–Do most people feel passionate about their life?
–Should they feel passionate about life?
–How do you discover your passion in life?

Provocative Quotes byline
–I’m a walking cliché.
==Charlie opening line.
–I could be a screenwriter who speaks Chinese and plays the oboe. That would be cool. But I’ll still be ugly. Nothing is going to change that.
==Charlie.
–I’ve been on this planet 40 years and I’m still no closer to understanding¢â‚¬¦4 billion 40 years.
==Charlie.
–Why can’t there be a movie just about flowers?
==Charlie.
–Writing is a journey into the unknown.
==Charlie.
— I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know how it feels to care about something passionately.
==Susan Orlean.
–I’ve written myself into my screenplay.
==Charlie.
— I’m putting in a chase sequence. So the killer flees on horseback with the girl, the cop’s after them on a motorcycle and it’s like a battle between motors and horses, like technology vs. horse.
==Donald.
— I don’t want to cram in sex or guns or car chases or characters learning profound life lessons or growing or coming to like each other or overcome obstacles to succeed in the end. The book isn’t like that, and life isn’t like that, it just isn’t.
==Charlie about the screenplay.
— Who’s gonna play me? I think I should play me!
==John Laroche.
–People find love¢â‚¬¦people lose it. Everyday people make a conscious choice to destroy someone else.
==McKee on the infinite possibilities for story.
–Your characters must change and the change must come from them.
==McKee teaching screenwriting.
–You are what you love, not what loves you.
==Donald to Charlie.
— It’s over. Everything, I did everything wrong. I want my life back. I want it back before everything got fu–ed up. I want to be a baby again. I want to be new. I WANT TO BE NEW!
==Susan Orlean.
–Your life is so interesting. I’d rather watch you live your life than live mine.
==Susan to John.
–“Adaptation” is some kind of a filmmaking miracle, a film that is at one and the same time (a) the story of a movie being made, (b) the story of orchid thievery and criminal conspiracies, and (c) a deceptive combination of fiction and real life.
==Roger Ebert.

Posted in Movies, Staublog in December 6, 2002 by | No Comments »

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