Thursday, March 10, 2011

George Nolfi:The Appearance of Free Will

The mind bending faction of sci-fi dramas have their own corner in the cinematic arena, and enclosed there are the varied, yet deceptively close film adaptations of master craftsman Philip K. Dick's twisting works of futuristic paranoia. Paul Verhoeven, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and Richard Linklater are among the singular auteurs who have made Dick fiercely their own, and now novice scribe turned director George Nolfi comes to the fore with his teasing, enthralling The Adjustment Bureau.

The film begins as a quaint character study about a would be, down to earth politician(Matt Damon) and his rocky campaign for a senate seat, until he crosses paths with the gorgeous, unconventional Emily Blunt. From here, Nolfi gets a little tangled in his sci-fi plot concerning a secret establishment in charge of making the world go according to "the boss'" plan, which may well be God. "They", including a conscience stricken Anthony Mackie, are bent on keeping Damon and Blunt apart.

Although this long bit is a tad convoluted, it remains fascinating, seguing into the best part of the film, a chase through doorways and dimensions, and ultimately, a powerful love story. Damon and Blunt are palpable, John Toll's cinematography is saturated and invigorating, and Thomas Newman's score perfectly sweeping.

Nolfi, a screenwriter on the last Bourne film, has an endearing penchant for old fashioned exposition and emotion, and coming amid the recent onslaught of numbing cash cows, his uneven but  moving debut is a marvel of free will in and of itself.

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