"Adaptation" is a film that tells the story of a middle-aged screenwriter named Charlie attempting to write a screenplay based on a book. Throughout the film, he struggles not only with the writing but with himself. He sees himself as an old pathetic lonely person and attempts to adapt to his world, much like an orchid adapts to fit its surroundings. This review will analyze the most important aspects of this film.
“Adaptation” has numerous settings such as Charlie’s home that he shares with his brother and the Florida wilderness where the Indians gather the orchids. The effect of Charlie’s home surroundings serve to create sympathy from the audience as his life is shown to be unsettled and not content. Through his environment, his constant struggle to be accepted and acknowledged is portrayed to the audience. The setting of the wilderness is used to portray the ability of the orchid to adapt to hostile environment, reflecting Charlie’s need to adapt to society.
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The plot of “Adaptation” is confusing and not very satisfying. The film follows the plot of John Laroche, the character the book is based on and an orchid thief, on his trips to steal orchids and then breed and sell them. Charlie, stumped in his attempts to write the screenplay, follows Susan Orlean, the writer of the book, yet he is too afraid to speak to her. Finally, Charlie follows her to Florida, where he discovers that the orchid is used as a drug and the writer has an affair with Laroche. Charlie incorporates himself in the screenplay. The movie ends, however, in the very way that Charlie wanted to avoid. While he wanted to create a story about real life, the ending is bent towards audience pleasing and is not very realistic, as Charlie reconciles with his brother and falls in love with a woman.
The main characters of the film are Charlie and Susan. Charlie is a screenwriter who is constantly depressed and wallowing in his self-pity. His constant condition evokes disgust and pity from the audience. His character, however, does not achieve much depth beyond that. He is contrasted by his twin brother, who, while not possessing much talent, lets nothing stop him from following his goals. Susan Orlean is the writer of the book on which the screenplay is based. She is desperately trying to find something in life about which she can passionately feel. She finds herself abusing the drugs extracted from the orchids and starting an affair with Laroche.
The theme portrayed in this film is adapting to a world where one does not feel comfortable with him or herself. Charlie’s views on his life throughout the majority of the film illustrate this theme, as he considers himself to be just and older, balding, unattractive person, while he is not able to perceive the positive things in his existence. By the end of the film, however, he realizes that he needs to adapt to his surroundings, even if he is not the most successful person in the world. This film manages to portray this important theme quite successfully.
The style of this film is shown through its narrative structure and point of view. The narrative structure uses numerous flashbacks to a time when Orlean was gathering information for her book. This is effective because it lets the audience experience the actual events that Charlie is basing his screen play on. This also allows the audience to experience the struggles involved in creating a screenplay. The narrative point of view, from the point of view of Charlie, is effective as it lets the viewers understand his character and his reasoning behind his actions. Voiceover is also used by Charlie to directly express his thoughts.
In conclusion, “Adaptation” was an average, if unexpected, cinematic experience. The movie was able to portray a person successfully adapting to his environment. While this movie lacked a strong plot or in-depth characters, it carried an important theme that should not be overlooked by modern society, the theme of being an individual and adapting to an environment that may not be acceptable at first glance.
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