Adaptation

The famous screen writer Charlie Kaufman is known to mess up with your mind. And in Adaptation, to our delight, it is Kaufman who gets messed up. The story of this film is a bit difficult to define , and, after some deliberation, you conclude it is pointless, and even unnecessary.

In a nutshell, tasked to write a screen adaptation of a book about rare orchids, Kaufman goes into writer’s block. Understandably so, because how do you write an interesting or meaningfull movie about orchids. And who would watch it?

This is not a background information but indeed the actual story. Well, we learn that even in real life, he underwent the same trouble and decided to circumvent it by writing a screenplay about ‘the travails of writing’. So the film has Charlie Kaufman as one of the characters, played by Nicholas Cage. It is doubtful even Kaufman would have done a better job! So starting with the witer’s block, the film journeys onto actual story about flowers, blending in multiple angles and stories, finally culminating all into one.

Using his imaginary twin brother, Kaufman mocks at all the ‘run of the mill’ screenwriters of Hollywood. He doesn’t want to write a cliched script and ridicules his ‘unemployed’ brother who is just leatning to write screenplays. He scoffs at screenwriting workshops his brother attends. Then his brother writes a ‘hollywood thriller’ and wins a movie contract! Dismayed, we see Kaufman signing up for the workshop hoping to find answers to his Orchid Conundrum.

Adaptation is not just about screenplays although they are the most imaginative parts in the film. It is also about flowers and how they can adapt to different environments and plays with one of the characters, the orchid hunter, who, like the flowers, adapts to situations.  And is juxtapositioned with the New Yorker reporter character, ably played by Meryl Streep, who finds it difficult to adapt.

With so many layers and its staunch refusal to cow to mediocrity, Adaptation is so wonderfully complex that in the end it is your mind that gets messed up, with the suffering screenwriter having the last laugh. It is not very often you get to say ‘you have never seen anything like this’. But here from multilayered script to complex characters to intriguing plot development to mind games to intellectual hubris, you would not expect see such a delightfully messy film for a long time.