Sunday, March 06, 2011

Apt ‘Adjustment’

Defying a grand, unseen plan, politician David Norris (Matt Damon) and dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) meet again after an initial chance encounter, despite being monitored by mysterious agents of the inexplicable “Adjustment Bureau.” The self-appointed guardians of humanity have forbidden David from pursuing her, as both humans are meant to fulfill separate destinies.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s story “The Adjustment Team,” the fantasy film smartly connects humanity’s self-destructive nature to the occasional absence or non-involvement of the seemingly higher beings, who have been assigned again to preserve the well-being of the planet. Interestingly, the allusions to angels and a grand overseer (the unknowable “Chairman”) inspire age-old questions about free will and purpose, queries that are asked by David repeatedly. Also intriguing, and quite reassuringly revealed, is the malleability of the Chairman’s grand designs.

“The Adjustment Bureau” partly feels like the sci-fi flick “The Box,” in that the mystery men’s interactions with humans hint at some bizarre agenda. But the enigmas surrounding this particular secret group are better-defined and more acceptably answered.

Its romance angle is believable; Damon and Blunt are an unexpected onscreen pairing that actually works. The plight of the cosmically illegal lovers conjures up fond memories of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” because of the focus on a couple seemingly destined for each other, or even “Sliding Doors,” for its attention to choices that affect the bigger picture. A few pacing glitches aside, “The Adjustment Bureau” inspires introspection, while entertaining with its take on “divine” intervention and predestination.

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