The Adjustment Bureau - ***
Directed by: George Nolfi
Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, John Slattery, Terrance Stamp
Review: The idea is what’s at the center of ‘The Adjustment Bureau.’ Our main character David Norris (Damon) spends his entire time in the movie either running towards, running away from, or moping over an idea. The idea is that we have complete control over our futures and that based on today, we can gauge how our futures will transpire tomorrow. The idea that your decisions today are only a part of where you will be going in the future and won’t have an adverse effect on your life going forward.
David is an aspiring Senator in the state of New York and once he reaches the Senate seat he could possibly go further and even make a run at the white house. David has the kind of cache and charisma that this kind of run, in succession, could be possible. This is what David wants, it’s what he’s wanted since he could remember, and there will be nothing that will stop him from reaching this goal. David needs the adoration of the public in his life and that is provided to him by public office.
Elise (Blunt) is a dancer who is on her way to becoming a very successful person in her industry. She craves being on stage and the success dancing has brought her in life is irreplaceable. After inexplicably crashing a wedding she finds herself in a ‘chance’ meeting with David in the men’s bathroom, right before David is supposed to give his concession speech after losing the senate race in his first go-round.
These two have instant chemistry and find themselves enamored with each other from the start. Within minutes of meeting they are locked in a kiss. Elise runs off as David has to give his speech. What she doesn’t know is that Elise inspired David to give one of the best speeches of his career which automatically makes him the front runner for the senate seat in the next election. David is a solid speaker and this would have happened anyway. David would have found a way to convince the public he was the front runner anyway, right? ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ would have you believe that that is not the case.
You see David and Elise are not supposed to be together, and when they meet by pure chance on a bus following David’s speech ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ has to step in and make some changes. Unfortunately, they screw up and they are revealed to David and have to make him aware of his existence. By making him aware they also tell him that his future, and Elise’s future, is dependent upon him and her not getting together. She does not know about ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ or the future implications, so it is up to David to make the decision that is best for both of them.
This is the choice that is presented to David and one that he has to make. There are interesting questions presented here as well as topics of religion, belief, and free will that are all dealt with in some capacity. What decision would you make if you knew the consequences deep into the future? What if you knew how it would affect the other person, would you make the decision for them or allow them to choose? Are our actions and decisions predetermined, guided, or given completely to free will? These are all very good questions but the movie goes in not further depth than I have in this review. ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ reaches for greatness but falls short with it’s inability to answer any of the questions that are raised. There are characters and forces at work that are alluded to but never directly dealt with and understood by the characters or the audience. Ultimately, this is the flaw of the film and the one that holds it back.
You will have to suspend disbelief to a great extent in this movie as by the end it gets pretty hokey, but if you concentrate on the questions it raises and really think about it, you will be entertained and I would say it’s definitely worth your time.