Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What I Watched Last Night: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt

What a treat! I hadn't expected to love this movie but I did - I do. If you haven't seen it, I'm asking you right now - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

This is a film about thwarting fate. Fate in the guise of mysterious fedora-garbed men who work for an equally mysterious 'chairman' (read - God) whose job it is to keep us (read- humans) corralled - making sure we don't stray off the life paths that have been 'chosen' for us.

These 'adjustment bureau' types don't like it when a human suddenly does something unexpected.

Matt Damon is David Norris, a popular politico - the youngest Congressman in NYC history. When a photo from his college past derails his Senate campaign, David goes to work for a law firm, biding his time. Despite the gaff, fate has a wonderful political future in store for him. (Can you say: White House?)

David is not supposed to meet dancer Elise Sellas  (Emily Blunt) - much less is he supposed to fall in love with her. But he does and she does - in one of the most charming scenes (set in the men's bathroom at a hotel) I've seen in years. Damon and Blunt are incredibly real. Their scenes together are a wonder to behold.

But fate has different plans for David and Elise. It's up to the adjustment bureau to adjust this little snafu.

This film is a total delight from beginning to end as we watch a befuddled David accosted by his handlers, who include the wonderful Anthony Mackie as Harry Mitchell and the equally wonderful John Slattery (of MAD MEN fame) as Richardson.

Anthony Mackie

John Slattery

They play two adjustment bureau employees who must undo the 'not supposed to happen' merging of David and Elise's paths. (Paths - literally. There's an actual book they carry around that shows these paths - kind of like a destiny subway map.)

But what do you do when your heart tells you that you've met the right woman?

Terence Stamp appears later as an ominous higher-up who tries some very tough love. He makes David see that Elise's dancing future is in jeopardy if she stays with David. Plus, oh by the way, fate has grand plans for you, David. Plans that don't include Elise. You have a chance to do great things, but only if.....

Guilt. It works every time.

A fabulous love story. A fabulous (and occasionally spooky) action movie. I thought I wouldn't like seeing Matt Damon in this sort of film - Jason Bourne is stamped on my heart and brain. But I shouldn't have worried. Damon is perfection as the anti-Bourne. (Is there nothing this guy can't do?)

And the setting, oh the setting, New York has rarely looked better or friendlier or more like a home town.

My only quibble with the film is that it's never made completely clear why Elise would derail David's future and vice versa. I mean, I sort of got it - something about Elise being a loose cannon sort of personality and David not -  but I would have liked something more definitive.

A further fun aspect of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU is the political cameo role-call early in the film. Personages such as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NBC newsie Chuck Scarborough, politicos John Podesta, James Carville, Mary Matalin, former Attorney General Madeleine Albright, talk show host Jon Stewart and others. I really enjoyed seeing Matt Damon interacting with 'real' politicos.

David Norris and NYC Mayor Bloomberg

So, in the end, what happened to the concept of  'free will'?

See the movie.


  1. Yup - I really enjoyed this when I saw it at the cinema. Some of the 'in house' joke of having 'REAL' politicians was lost on us Brits, though!

    Basically - ANYTHING with Matt Damon in is enough to catch my interest

  2. I've been waiting for this movie to come in my NetFlix picks! It came highly recommended by my children It sounds so entertaining ..and I know I'll love the NYC scenes even though I love

  3. This movie sparked my interest but I was surprised to enjoy it as much as I did. I read the short story this is based on and you can see the bones of the idea in there, but they really did expand on the idea and make it their own story.

  4. Sue: Me too. I am such a Matt Damon fan. He's my favorite youngish actor. Now if they could only figure out a script that would star Matt and Colin Firth, I would be one happy woman. :)

  5. Pat: You will love it! I know it. A film that leaves you with a big smile on your face. :)

  6. Red: Me too. I wasn't prepared to love it. And I did. :)

    I think I may have to add this to my personal little library of films.

  7. Thanks for reminding me about this movie. I saw it when it came out, didn't know what to expect, and was charmed and delighted. I especially liked the ways (literally) of the Bureau. I think it's time to view it again ...

  8. You're welcome, Mark.

    Time for a re-watch. :)

  9. I really liked it too and also did not expect to. Damon is really a good actor and makes smart choices.

  10. HI Yvette
    I just popped over from Yvonne's blog.. I loved this movie also.. in fact could watch it again already.. and have become a big fan of Emily Blunt of late.. I watched a bunch of great movies of planes lately.. well half of movies in between falling asleep.. thanks for reminding me to re-watch this beauty.. ciao Julie

  11. Patti: I think he's probably an incredibly smart guy. I'm wondering if the title of the movie is what threw people off.

  12. Hi Julie, thanks for dropping by. There seem to be a lot of us who loved this movie and maybe didn't expect to. :)

  13. Oh we'll have to make a point to see this!

  14. Well, I was going to skip this one. But just like when I learned that SOURCE CODE was directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie's son and the director of a great film called MOON) I ended up watching it and thoroughly enjoying it. Now I'll have to seek out this movie. Thanks for clueing us all in. You and I definitely have the same tastes in movies so I know it's worth it.

  15. John: You're welcome, m'dear. I think you'll enjoy this one. It's a love story with some thinking going on. I loved it.

    SOURCE that the one with Jake Gyllenhaal? If so I have it on my queue.

  16. Yes, Jake's in SOURCE CODE. Takes place in the lovely Windy City and was filmed partly in many of the 'burbs out here and portions of the city where Union Station is located. But I have to tell you that the REAL Metra commuter train interiors are nowhere near as luxurious as those in the movie. If only they were!

  17. Oooh, then I do have it on my queue for sure. I think it's available for streaming.

    Will definitely watch it.

    Well, you know, John, the movies do have a tendency to spiffy up reality. :)

  18. With this and One Potato, Two Potato added to my TBS (to be seen) now almost as long as my TBR list, I must start working on seeing these films.


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