Free will trumps all in Adjustment Bureau
Our collective unconscious currently reflected in Hollywood cinema is meddling with interesting concepts about the state of reality, the nature of fate, and the power and consequence of free will.
The Adjustment Bureau, directed by George Nolfi, is a film based on Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same title and has a similar psychologically appealing plot, albeit less sophisticated.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare the two, but most of us won’t be able to stop ourselves.
Essentially a love story, the film focuses on David (Matt Damon) and Elise (Emily Blunt) as their lives collide in a world where a squad of bureaucratic “angels” ensure the Chairman’s (a transparent metaphor for God) blueprint for their destiny is meticulously executed. Unfortunately for these lovers, this fate requires their separation as a couple.
The problem is the strict adherence to a plan for logistics sake leaves room for human emotion to interfere; particularly the indestructible power of love between two people, which Romeo and Juliet have already taught us, is intrinsically linked to the idea of predestination.
The themes of fate and free will are at the heart of this movie. And although the themes are fascinating, the movie does only an average job of dealing with them. The strength of the concept partnered with Matt Damon’s down home reliability as a screen presence, is however, enough to carry the movie.
The film is also visually appealing. Cinematographer John Toll composes beautiful wide shots of striking venues in New York City that assert our feeling of vulnerability against the large, unknowable hands of destiny, which add strength to the story in a way that the dialogue and action often fail.
We are urged to look at the parade of life we partake in and not be blindly carried by in its stream.
Rather, we turn the currents in the directions we want to go with our incredible ability of free will, one we constantly undervalue.
The sense of inevitably having only our choices to shape our lives, and one chance to seize our incredible power of choice for our own happiness, rather than consign ourselves to a mundane life designed by the elusive authorities, is what essentially makes this film inspiring.
Let’s just wait for the day The Dark Knight’s Christopher Nolan directs a Philip K. Dick story, and then we’ll be talking.