The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A glass of orange juice in the wrong place

with 4 comments

Drinking a glass of orange juice right after you’ve brushed your teeth is never a brilliant idea. It tastes yucky, and you don’t only lose your orange juice experience, but also the fresh taste of spearmint in your mouth. What a waste.

At the age of 43, I probably should have known better. But when you’re planning for a mother-daughter evening, looking for a movie you can agree on despite your disparate ideas about what constitutes a good movie, you can’t afford to be picky, taking the taste from your latest film that lingers in your mind into concern. And that’s how it came that I watched The Adjustment Bureau only shortly after I had been floored by Incendies.

A brutal change of diet
The change of my diet was brutal, going from a dark, heavy and heartbreaking story from life to something light, non-realistic and slightly silly.

Even if I realized that the switch of genre would feel strange, I still had pretty high hopes for this movie. After all, just like Blade Runner and Minority Report, two sci-fi movies I genuinely like, it was based on a short story by Philip K Dick. I thought I would get something imaginative, a little bit twisted, with a certain amount of conspiracy, the individual fighting the system for his freedom of choice, exploring a labyrinth in his search for truth and justice.

What I saw in front of me was a sci-fi thriller with a pinch of bittersweet romance to spice it up and bring some heart into the story. What I got though was a dozen-romance movie film in the same class as Serendipity , although there was a little addition of with mystical men in hats running in and out of doors.

Maybe the stakes just weren’t high enough or maybe I wasn’t entirely invested in the love couple who are defying the powers that try to keep them apart. Regardless of the reason, I found myself rather un-involved, and far less excited than I would expect to be by a Philip K Dick adaptation.

I don’t hate romantic comedies as such; there are many good ones out there, but unfortunately this wasn’t one of those. I didn’t sense the passion they said they had; I had to trust on the assumption that it was their destiny to be together, and that’s not enough. It wasn’t good as a thriller; it wasn’t good as a romance. It fell flat somewhere in between.

A flawed movie
You should never dwell too much over the logics when you see movies that involve the supernatural, but there was one detail that boggled my mind. What kept the girl from calling the guy, a well known politician who should be easy enough to find? How hard is it to pick up a phone? Or is it plain unthinkable that a woman could take an initiative?

The Adjustment Bureau is a flawed movie, but it does have a little bit of charm, which I also should talk about in an effort to be fair.

I like the lack of gore and blood and guns and car chases and explosions that we get in such abundance in most thrillers. There are also certain ideas that I’ll put into my library of daydreams, such as the true reason why I spill coffee on myself or miss the buss.

But all in all, this was a disappointment. And I don’t think it was only due to its unfortunate position in my movie queue, right after brushing my teeth.

The Adjustment Bureau (Nolfi,US, 2001) My rating: 3/5

Written by Jessica

August 17, 2011 at 1:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. I liked the movie but didn’t love it like Blade Runner.

    Dicks books always offer deeper thoughts. Will robots ever be indistinguishable from humans and if so, is killing them moral (Blade Runner)? If you can tell the future, won’t you abuse it (Minority Report). And for this movie it’s all about free will vs predestination. I always find it fun to dwell on these thoughts.


    August 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    • It was a very long time since I read any of Dick’s writings. I should definitely go back and check them out. I really love books and movies that dwell on the topics you bring up. It was just that The Adjustment Bureau didn’t click with me the way that other movies based on his work have. Maybe the romantic story overshadowed the ideas this time.


      August 18, 2011 at 1:15 am

  2. I thought it was a rather sweet romantic comedy. The sci-fi stuff is easy to pick apart, but I liked the chemistry between the leads enough that they carried most of the movie for me.

    James Blake Ewing

    August 20, 2011 at 7:26 am

    • Well… Since I’m a sci-fi fan I suppose I was a bit disappointed at how little emphasis there was on that part of the story. I might just be grumpy. And the girl wasn’t really my type, so I suppose that didn’t help either.
      It’s not a bad movie, it’s just that it’s not as good as some other Philip K Dick adaptations as far as I’m concerned.


      August 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm

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