After a flurry of films that aim to boggle our minds and invert the world we are used to, such as ‘Inception’ and ‘Shutter Island’, comes ‘The Adjustment Bureau’. Based on the short story of Philip K. Dick, the source material has been turned into a stylish and fast paced romantic thriller, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.
David Norris (Damon) is a precocious young politician running for Senator. The ease with which the public identify with his laid-back attitude and troubled upbringing suggests the race will be a foregone conclusion in his favour. However, when pictures are published of him indulging in some mischievous antics whilst still at college, he loses his early lead. Cue Elise (Blunt), beautiful and mysterious ballerina. The two fall for each other instantly, in the men’s bathroom of all romantic locations. Does this sound ridiculous yet? Things become complicated when David accidently stumbles upon the eponymous Adjustment Bureau themselves. In this world, we all have a pre-determined plan mapped out, from which our lives must not deviate, and it is the job of the Adjustment Bureau to ensure that we do not veer off script. In David’s case, he was never meant to meet Elise, but he is unwilling to accept this fate, despite constant obstructions.
Putting aside the absurd sounding nature of the plot, it is clear that there is something cinematic in the work of Philip K. Dick – this adaptation follows ‘Minority Report’, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘A Scanner Darkly’. This is a film in which we must suspend our belief for a while – not just for the existence of the Bureau, but also the instantaneous love that occurs between a dancer and a politician that know nothing about each other. Having said that, the chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt is electric, and the intimate moments they share together are some of the most engaging parts of the film. The two central performances, alongside the admirable moments of wit and suspense, make this a film worth watching. The tension is maintained throughout, and there is a feeling of genuine hope for the two protagonists, but the lofty themes that emerge jar against the fact that this is a film that cannot be taken too seriously. Fate, choices, and love overcoming obstacles are all thought provoking areas that the film suggests, but it is so whimsical that it is hard to engage with these. ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ is a film that is cosy and easy to watch, but if you think about it too much, its innate silliness could cause the entire plot to fall apart.