Money, It’s Gotta Be the Hats

5 03 2011

Heavenly Host Depicted As A Limited Liminality Company

I just saw The Adjustment Bureau, which is categorized by people who market movies as a “romantic thriller” because it appeals to nerds but also has something for the imaginary girlfriends who love them. Matt Damon’s character is stuck in one particular place emotionally, and takes the same bus every day for three years in the hopes of encountering his own private one that got away. It’s also suggested (point blank, actually) that an intense, real-deal relationship can be enough to fulfill a human being—indeed, that such comprehensive intimacy may even be more fulfilling than any lucrative and fame-inducing career it might thwart.

Yeah, I did like it.

So the Adjusters are all dudes, which should give ancient poststructuralists, if there are any left, something to be dismissive about as they turn to dust. Slick-looking, fedora-wearing dudes. And let’s just go ahead and agree to agree that they’re angels. You don’t accidentally rename your mortal PKD protagonist “David”, which is about as Biblical as it gets (while remaining as banal as the original “Ed”). Plus the idea that angels have difference engines where their feelgooderies should be is just awesome.

Kneel before Stamp.

The award for Most Banging goes either to Harry (Anthony Mackie), a lowly Proctor in the hierarchy of the Adjustment Bureau who may or may not be a manifestation of the “magical negro” trope (I say it’s a stretch), or McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar), who’s higher up than Harry but less sleepy.

AB is also quite good on the technical front. The location shooting was seemingly very disciplined–the geography of Manhattan is depicted with remarkable accuracy. And you might justifiably expect an overabundance of bells and whistles in a PKD adaptation, but there’s not all that much CGI happening here. Refreshing. In the few places where it is used, you don’t even mind it, because it’s very muted and not at all gratuitous. Forgoing the exploding buildings and flying protoplasmic blobs, this movie relies instead on an aesthetic mess of notebooks, doors and hats—which effectively renders the weirdness compelling.

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