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The Adjustment Bureau

Film Four Stars
The Adjustment Bureau has a problem from the beginning, and that problem is the marketing it's pitched against. Sure the marketing is going to get people through the door and onto the seats, but there's a chance that those leaving the cinema who haven't seen what they were sold are a tad annoyed and their word of mouth is going to affect the chances of their friends seeing the film.

Please, if you're in that situation ignore them and ignore the marketing. Don't make too many associations with what the posters and adverts suggest, and try to go into the cinema without any preconceptions, for if you do there's a much better chance that you'll come out of the film having really enjoyed The Adjustment Bureau.

The film is good, as long as you aren't trying to compare it to anything else the lead actor has starred in.

The studios are sometimes really stupid, or perhaps not the studios but the marketing companies behind them, because they're just concerned about getting people through the tills at the cinema. That's what seems to have motivated them to pitch the marketing material for The Adjustment Bureau as Matt Damon racing around and dragging a confused Emily Blunt behind him, and what springs to mind when you see that? Bourne.

One of my friends said of the poster that it made him think that it should have the tagline Bourne meets Inception (Filmstalker review), something he had heard a few cinemagoers say of it, and that's what's happening, people are being sold on the Bourne part and since Matt Damon was starring and the posters and trailers all featured the characters in what seemed like a constant chase, how could you blame them?

Thankfully I read a few comments from people who were going to see it and were coming out disappointed, some of them saying that they had expected to see a Bourne film and were thoroughly disheartened. I made sure that I didn't go in expecting what the posters were saying, already realising that the film was something different, and that's just as well.

The Adjustment Bureau is not Bourne and neither is it Inception.

Plot.pngThe Adjustment Bureau is a film adapted from a short story by Philip K. Dick. George Nofli wrote the screenplay and directs, he also wrote the screenplays for Timeline, Ocean's Twelve, The Sentinel and The Bourne Ultimatum.

The film tells the story of David Norris, played by Matt Damon, a young man racing to be part of the U.S. Senate. Just as his bid is failing he meets a woman called Elise, played by Emily Blunt, their paths cross fleetingly and romantically, but before anything more can happen they are separated.

Sometime in the future he bumps into her again, and the attraction is still there, he's clearly in love with her and wants something more, however a mysterious group of men won't let them stay together, and they are going to do everything they can to ensure that Norris sees out his fate, a fate that's already been written.

Yet Norris won't give up and despite seemingly impossible odds he finds a way to get back to her, if he can only keep this mysterious group from splitting them up again and redefining their future, perhaps they can stay together.

TheFilm.pngThe Adjustment Bureau is not Bourne. I know I've said that a second time but it's worth saying again. This isn't an action/adventure film, this is a romantic/science fiction/thriller with the emphasis on the genres in that order. I can't stress it enough to forget Bourne, and if you do you'll enjoy this film.

Don't let me paint this the wrong way however, it's easy to forget Bourne and other films once you're into this story, for there's a lot more acting from Matt Damon in this film, there's a lot more reality and vulnerability from him, and he does give a strong performance. I forgot all about the association very quickly.

This is due in no large part to Emily Blunt and his performance alongside her. She is not only captivating on screen, but she's also a wonderful actress. Her performance is very relaxing and natural, and I found myself caught by the flirting between the two which seems very real and very natural. Those are the words I would use to describe Blunt's performance throughout the film, especially when she's playing off of Damon, and this seems to bring out the best in him.

I found myself smiling and laughing at moments between the two characters as they flirted and found moments of laughter together, I caught glimpses of real life in those scenes. That obviously goes down to the writer and director as well, George Nolfi has done a great job there, but without Blunt and Damon being so natural and open with each other on screen I doubt it would have translated at all.

What this does is totally buy you into the romantic aspect of the film, and you believe that there's an instant connection and that they really would fight for each other, made stronger by the fact that Blunt is no push over. Believing in the heart of the story is the most important thing, and above all this is the heart of the story.

There's a huge science fiction element to the film, but it carries this big concept well, keeping it focused on the characters and their relationship, which has managed to capture the audience early on. It also doesn't try to over explain itself at any time and keeps it to the information that the main characters are given, we never really know much more than they do, sometimes a little earlier, but never much more.

It is a big concept though and a few times I found myself struggling with a few aspects, such as the hats. That did feel a little dated and didn't quite fit with me, and yet it was something I ended up accepting.

Yet however strong the film is for focussing on the romantic element above the science fiction part, the dramatic weight of the ending and the whole plan idea is lost a little behind it. I can't really go into specifics without seriously hitting spoiler territory, so let me just say that there are two scenes of the film involving the plan that should pack a pretty big punch, but just didn't carry the dramatic weight for me.

What happens is that the romantic story rides over it, so instead of feeling shock and surprise, your emotional response is for the romantic side of the film. It's not a bad thing, but I did wish that these bigger moments in the science fiction side of the story were a little stronger and would have taken over more.

Overall.pngI did enjoy The Adjustment Bureau, a lot more than a lot of people it seems, but then I think that's down to the fact that I wasn't expecting Bourne. Matt Damon gives a strong performance that has a lot more character and depth to it than any Bourne film, but the real attraction is Emily Blunt and her fantastic natural performance, and some of the scenes between the two which are charming and at times romantic.

The story is clever and keeps its focus on the romantic plot between the two main characters but the whole science fiction and conspiracy story keeps running throughout, never overtaking it, and never getting too big. There's no getting bogged down in over explanations and complex science fiction themes, it concentrates on the two leads and their relationship.

However it doesn't ignore the science fiction element, which feels more fantasy thriller than science fiction, it's a great story and it's told well. If it just held a bit more weight in the latter half of the film, particularly the end, then it would be a better film than it is.

That said The Adjustment Bureau is a good and enjoyable film with some strong performances and some great scenes, it's far better than some of the reviews that you might be reading or hearing.

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