Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Adjustment Bureau

I thought the Adjustment Bureau a clever but flawed film. The film is part of genre where Angels in various guises come to earth on some Godly mission. The best loved is Its a Wonderful Life with Clarence determined to get his Wings and then the wartime Matter of Life and Death and Heaven can Wait. In this film the Angels are among us ensuring that we keep to God’s individual and written down plan because we have shown we are not capable of exercising free. The deity is not referred to as God in order not to offend religious sensibilities although the central argument for their intervention is one that most religious bodies would concur that human kind has abused free will and God has determined that until everyone learns to exercise that will is more creative and Godlike way it is suspend while a number of special individuals with the right basic qualities have their life plans controlled and if appropriate constantly adjusted, we would say tweaked to ensure they fulfil destiny and contribute to creating a world in which humans can be allowed to make their choices freely. Where this proposition crosses the acceptable line is of course that flies in the Christian belief that life is meant to be a struggle in which human can make bad ethical choices and condemn themselves to eternal damnation until such time as God gets fed up and calls a halt the whole caboodle in which instance the collective day of reckoning will arrive.

The best laid plans come to naught comes to mind as a set of particular circumstances throws Elise Sellas played by Emily Blunt who is planned to become a world acclaimed dancer with David Norris (Matt Damon) who is scheduled to become President of the United States.

They met up in the men’s room where she is hiding having crashed a wedding reception (one of many unlikelies in film) and the interaction leads to a kiss after she hears him planning his acceptance of defeat. Inspired by this contact he gives an honest explanation for the loss by having given too great a reliance on focus groups, opinion polls and presentation consultants a constant beef about American political life along with its corruption and bully which having been censured intensifies continuing in the same manner as before.
In this instance the speech has almost magical qualities and impresses all kinds of Joe’s and Jane in the street and David is back on his pathway tot he White House and saving mankind.

Sometime later unknown to the audience an Angel called Harry is told by one of his seniors to intercept David Norris for a few minutes before he make his way to the office of new job. The purpose of the delay although its precision a few minutes before his arrival is not explained, is to enable a squad of angels complete with security guards to freeze the entire office staff at the premises in order to fix the new seniors of Mr Norris to further his progress in the divine plan. The proposition that such divine intervention could only be achieved by such an earthly and physical manoeuvre is preposterous although it is essential for the rest of story as the failure of the delay means that David discovers the intervention and requires and explanation with warning.

There is a further complication in that David has meet Elise again on the bus and she giver him her telephone number which is written on the back of a card. The boss man on the ground explains that David has been selected to be part of a special plan from which there can be no deviation. He should not have witnessed what he has and if he discloses to any one his being will wiped and will be given a very different life outcome. Any involvement with the young woman is out of the question and the phone card is destroyed.

However a spark has been lit so although he continues to make political progress and does well in his occupation he send much of his free time trying to find the young woman. He does this on his own quietly, believing it is out of sight and mind of his official minders.

When they meet for a third he has difficulty explaining why he failed to contact her although she is still single and was clearly very interested in him she has since had at least one relationship which had led to an engagement. She is a dancer and he manages to get the name of her company and arranges to meet to see her after a rehearsal. Aware of this further contact the angel brigade keep him under constant surveillance using a form a hand held Sat life Navigators which controls the immediate environment as well as thought decision making process. Despite this ability they are required to keep within a limited range of their subject so if able to throw a curved ball they can be jolted off the navigation plan

This provides the opportunity for an interesting use of CGI as while they move around the city on foot they are able to use portals which enable speedy short cuts as fast as any motor vehicle or city centre train. The minders fix it that the two would be lovers do not meet up but David makes use of his creativity as well as motivation to eventually get to where the girl is rehearsing. It is at this point the local chief shows David the extent of her talent and that is scheduled to become an internationally acclaimed super dancers which he will ruin when after her causer her to have an accident and the doctors will decide that either it is a temporary sprain or a fracture which will force early retirement and a career as a dance teacher.

All appears lost until his personal angel minder intervenes having discovered that the two were originally destined for each other which is why there as the instant attraction but then the decision was taken that they would have separate destinies and that their paths were never intended to cross. Why this decision was taken is not explained

Harry decides to intervene in two ways. The first is to approach the Chairman directly with the plight of the couple and secondly he tutors David in how to evade surveillance and travel at speed through the city using the portals. The climax of the film is an intense chase between the couple and the official forces determined to separate them and make a permanent adjustment. Just when all appears lost Harry appears with a communiqué for the lead pursuer to say a change of plan has been put into effect and the couple are to stay together. A different kind of adjustment has been undertaken. It is good fare for Valentine’s day week although the ending that true love can overcome God‘s will is interesting nonsense.

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