Friday, July 22, 2011

Must Watch Friday - The Adjustment Bureau

Today, Fiona Harper tells about a film she watched on the plane to New York en route to the RWA national conference, and why she was surprised and intrigued enough to watch it again when she got home...

The Ajustment Bureau takes its plot from a Phillip K. Dick short story with an interesting premise: what if what we think is free will is just an illusion? What if some unseen force works in the background of our lives, making our bigger decisions for us? As one of the suited, trilby-hatted adjustment bureau staff says to senator-to-be David Norris (Matt Damon): "People spill their coffee or their internet connection goes down or they lose their keys. Sometimes it's chance, but sometimes it's us."

Sometimes the tiniest events in our lives can have far-reaching consequences - a man gets stuck in traffic and is late for a date. His date won't have anything to do with him after that and instead of falling in love and getting married, they both end up going their seperate ways and meeting completely different people. All because of a traffic jam. But is that traffic jam a quirk of fate, or someone upstairs making sure we end up living our lives the way they are supposed to be lived?

While this is an interesting idea, The Adjustment Bureau is more than an exploration of an idea; at its heart it's a love story. Golden-boy politician David Norris meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a free-spirited dancer, int he men's bathroom at the Waldorf on the night of his biggest political defeat. (She's hiding from security because she crashed a wedding). Their short inspires him to make a speech that changes his life, and afterwards he can't stop thinking about her.

In a traditional love story, fate wants the hero and heroine to be together - we know they're meant for each other - but circumstances, and even the characters themselves, get in the way of what is supposed to be. But what if you've found that perfect person for you, the one who makes you feel alive, the one who prompts you to be your better self, yet fate has decreed you shouldn't be together? What then? And this is where The Adjustment Bureau gets interesting.

I'm not sure I totally bought into the fantasy aspect of the film. There were times it worked for me and times it didn't. But the love story? That, I bought into wholeheartedly. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt give great performances and there is definite chemistry between them. I believed they right for each other from the moment they met. And this is where a lot of love stories fall down - the hero and heroine sometimes only seem that they are together because they've been cast as the two central figures in a film or a book. What's harder is to show why this man is right for this woman. How do they reach each other in a way no one else can? And this is where The Adjustment Bureau succeeds. Worth a watch, just for that, I reckon.

Fiona's latest book,
Swept Off Her Stillettos, will be out in August in the UK (Mills & Boon RIVA) and September in North America (Harlequin Romance)

Clothing connoisseur Coreen Fraser's film-star style never leaves her wanting for male attention! But sourcing for a 1930s murder-mystery weekend stops being fun when she discovers she has to wear a tweed suit and sensible shoes!

Meanwhile Coreen's best friend Adam Conrad has his own plans for the weekend... And one moonlit kiss later Coreen's blinkers fall from her eyes. Adam is the only man who knows the girl underneath the skyscraper heels and scarlet lipstick. But is she brave enough to invite him to kiss it off any time he likes...?


  1. Rats, Fi, I was planning to do this for my next Friday slot! I saw it this weekend and really enjoyed it - and your review is pretty much the same as mine would've been (except all the fantasy stuff worked for me because I'm a secret SF nerd). Great film and I'd recommend it highly, too.

  2. Aw, sorry, Kate! And the fantasy element did work for me, but I wasn't completely swept away with it (and I wanted to be).

    Now want to buy the DVD (just released) so I can listen to the commentary and watch the featurette on Emily Blunt's dance training for the role - she was really impressive.