Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Minority Report

Designing the future

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Over the last half century or so, our culture has increasingly turned to film and television, rather than to the written word, as its primary reference point when we talk about the future. This is partially because more people are likely to have seen a blockbuster movie than to have read even the most successful novel, but the visual arts might also be more useful when it comes to certain kinds of speculation. As I browsed recently through the book Speculative Everything, I was repeatedly struck by the thought that dealing with physical materials can lead to insights that can’t be reached through words alone. In his classic New Yorker profile of Stanley Kubrick, the science writer Jeremy Bernstein provided a portrait of one such master at work:

In the film [2001], the astronauts will wear space suits when they are working outside their ships, and Kubrick was very anxious that they should look like the space suits of thirty-five years from now…They were studying a vast array of samples of cloth to find one that would look right and photograph well. While this was going on, people were constantly dropping into the office with drawings, models, letters, cables, and various props, such as a model of a lens for one of the telescopes in a spaceship. (Kubrick rejected it because it looked too crude.) At the end of the day, when my head was beginning to spin, someone came by with a wristwatch that the astronauts were going to use on their Jupiter voyage (which Kubrick rejected) and a plastic drinking glass for the moon hotel (which Kubrick thought looked fine).

This is a level of detail that most writers would lack the patience or ability to develop, and even if it were possible, there’s a huge difference between describing such objects at length on the page, which is rightly discouraged, and showing it to the viewer without comment. It can also lead to new ideas or discoveries that can feed into the story itself. I never tire of quoting a piece of advice from Shamus Culhane’s Animation: From Script to Screen, in which he recommends using a list of props to generate plot points and bits of business for a short cartoon:

One good method of developing a story is to make a list of details. For example [for a cartoon about elves as clock cleaners in a cathedral], what architectural features come to mind—steeples, bells, windows, gargoyles? What props would the elves use—brushes, pails, mops, sponges…what else? Keep on compiling lists without stopping to think about them. Let your mind flow effortlessly, and don’t try to be neat or orderly. Scribble as fast as you can until you run out of ideas.

In animation—or in a medium like comics or the graphic novel—this kind of brainstorming requires nothing more than a pencil and piece of paper. Kubrick’s great achievement in 2001 was to spend the same amount of time and attention, as well as considerably more money, on solving design problems in tangible form, and in the process, he set a standard for this kind of speculation that both filmmakers and other artists have done their best to meet ever since.

In Speculative Everything, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby suggest that the function of a prop in a movie might limit the range of possibilities that it can explore, since it has “to be legible and support plot development.” But this might also be a hidden strength. I don’t think it’s an accident that Minority Report is both the most influential piece of futurology in recent memory and one of the few science fiction films that manages to construct a truly ingenious mystery. And in another masterpiece from the same period, Children of Men, you can clearly see the prop maker’s pragmatism at work. Dunne and Raby quote the director Alfonso Cuarón, who says in one of the special features on the DVD:

Rule number one in the film was recognizability. We didn’t want to do Blade Runner. Actually, we thought about being the anti-Blade Runner in the sense of how we were approaching reality, and that was kind of difficult for the art department, because I would say, “I don’t want inventiveness. I want reference. Don’t show me the great idea, show me the reference in real life. And more importantly, I would like—as much as possible—references of contemporary iconography that is already engraved in human consciousness.”

Consciously or otherwise, Cuarón is echoing one of my favorite pieces of writing advice from David Mamet, who had exactly one rule when it came to designing props: You’ve got to be able to recognize it.” And the need to emphasize clarity and readability in unfamiliar contexts can push production designers in directions that they never would have taken otherwise.

Yet there’s also a case to be made for engaging in visual or sculptural thinking for its own sake, which is what makes speculative design such an interesting avenue of exploration. Dunne and Raby focus on more recent examples, but there’s a surprisingly long history of futurology in pictures. (For instance, a series of French postcards dating from the late nineteenth century imagined life a hundred years in the future, which Isaac Asimov discusses in his book Futuredays, and the book and exhibition Yesterday’s Tomorrows collects many other vintage examples of artwork about the future of America.) Some of these efforts lack the discipline that a narrative imposes, but the physical constraints of the materials can lead to a similar kind of ingenuity, and the result is a distinct tradition that draws on a different set of skills than the ones that writers tend to use. But the best solution might be one that combines both words and images at a reasonable cost. The science fiction of the golden age can sometimes seem curiously lacking in visual description—it can be hard to figure out how anything is supposed to look in Asimov’s stories—and such magazines as Astounding leaned hard on its artists to fill in the blanks. And this might have been a reasonable division of labor. The fans don’t seem to have made any distinction between the stories and their illustrations, and both played a crucial role in defining the genre. Movies and television may be our current touchstones for the future, but the literary and visual arts have been conspiring to imagine the world of tomorrow for longer than we tend to remember. As Speculative Everything demonstrates, each medium can come up with remarkable things when allowed to work on its own. But they have even more power when they join forces.

Systems of belief

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For many viewers, including me, I suspect that Google’s short film “The Selfish Ledger,” which I discussed here yesterday, was their introduction to the notion of speculative design. It’s a concept that evidently emerged through the work of the designers Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby of the Royal College of Art, who coined the term back in the nineties. In their recent book Speculative Everything, which I read over the weekend, they define the field as a form of criticism using design methods and techniques:

All good design is critical. Designers start by identifying shortcomings in the thing they are redesigning and offer a better version. Critical design applies this to larger more complex issues. Critical design is critical thought translated into materiality. It is about thinking through design rather than through words and using the language and structure of design to engage people.

Elsewhere, they characterize it as “design as a catalyst for social dreaming,” or what amounts to a form of science fiction using the tools of modern art, often in the form of museum installations or exhibits. As I studied the examples in their book, which is beautifully illustrated, I was left with a sensation much like the one that I felt after attending a symposium on futurology last month, which is that of a parallel development of speculative thought that has evolved independently of the tradition that I know best, with its own rules, conventions, and vocabulary.

In fact, I find speculative design—or at least the little of it I’ve seen—rather more interesting than academic futurology, which often suffers from its reliance on the same handful of concepts and catchphrases. Design, by definition, forces its practitioners to come to terms with tangible objects and materials, and the resulting ideas are often richer and more surprising because of their engagement with physical constraints. The closest equivalent might be the creation of sets and props for such movies as Minority Report, which might be the single most influential piece of futurology of the last two decades, although Dunne and Raby are careful to draw a distinction between the two fields. In Speculative Everything, they write:

One way of considering the fictional objects of speculative design is as props for nonexistent films. On encountering the object, the viewer imagines his or her own version of the film world the object belongs to. Film prop design, therefore, might seem like good source of inspiration for these objects, but as Piers D. Britton points out in “Design for Screen SF,” film props have to be legible and support plot development; they have to be readable, which undermines their potential to surprise and challenge. They are instrumental in moving the plot along.

In speculative design, by contrast, whether it’s a sculpture, a diorama, or a short film like “The Selfish Ledger,” the user’s momentary disorientation is the entire point. Many of these works are deliberately unheimlich, or uncanny, and much of their value lies in the mental exertion required to figure out what they’re trying to say, which would be discouraged in most conventional narratives.

As I browsed through Speculative Everything, which I read just after watching “The Selfish Ledger,” my eye was caught by a film installation, Belief Systems, by the German artist Bernd Hopfengaertner, which can be viewed in its entirety here. In their description, Dunne and Raby write:

Hopfengaertner asks what would happen if one of the tech industry’s many dreams comes true, if all the research being done by separate companies into making humans machine readable were to combine and move from laboratory to everyday life: combined algorithms and camera systems that can read emotions from faces, gait, and demeanor; neurotechnologies that cannot exactly read minds but can make a good guess at what people are thinking; profiling software that tracks and traces our every click and purchase; and so on. He developed six scenarios that explored different aspects of this rather grim world. In one, a person wants to buy a teapot. She walks up to a machine, pays, then hundreds of images of teapots flash before her on a screen suddenly stopping on one, the one the machine decides the shopper wants from reading micro expressions on her face. In another, a person is trying to identify muscle groups in her face so she can learn to control them and not give her feelings away, voluntarily becoming inhuman in order to protect her humanity.

The film is nearly a decade old, but its concerns seem even more relevant now. In the teapot segment, the vending machine is meant to “surprise” the user by giving her a product that she never really knew she wanted—which is the dream of consumer data aggregation. In another sequence, billboards are altered in real time in response to viewers’ facial expressions, which merely translates the default assumptions of online advertising into the world around us.

Belief Systems can be seen as a secret precursor to “The Selfish Ledger,” but there are also crucial differences. For one thing, there isn’t much doubt about Hopfengaertner’s point of view. (As Dunne and Raby note: “For some this is the ultimate user-centered dream, but for many Hopfengaertner’s project is a cautionary tale fast-forwarding to a time when currently diverse technologies are combined to ease our every interaction with technology.”) Google’s short film is more ambiguous, perhaps intentionally, but also because of its source. Speculative fiction sponsored by corporations will always have a different feel from the kind made by artists, partially because a corporate thought experiment has a way of turning imperceptibly into an action plan, but also because of the pressures operating on designers at such companies. Dunne and Raby speak shrewdly of design’s “inherent optimism,” which can turn into a trap in itself:

It is becoming clear that many of the challenges we face today are unfixable and that the only way to overcome them is by changing our values, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. Although essential most of the time, design’s inbuilt optimism can greatly complicate things, first, as a form of denial that the problems we face are more serious than they appear, and second, by channeling energy and resources into fiddling with the world out there rather than the ideas and attitudes inside our heads that shape the world out there.

An artist working independently has the luxury of functioning as a skeptic or a critic, while the equivalent at Google, however nobly intentioned, can hardly help turning all dilemmas into problems that the Google design team is uniquely qualified to solve—which is a slippery belief system in itself. I’ll offer a few final thoughts on the subject tomorrow.

Written by nevalalee

June 5, 2018 at 8:28 am

A choice of futures

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Jack Williamson

A plausible impossibility is always preferable to an improbable possibility.


Yesterday, I was reading an interview with the legendary science fiction author Jack Williamson when I came across a statement that struck a nerve. When asked about the genre’s supposed ability to predict the future, Williamson replied:

The average [science fiction] author is more stage magician, a creator of convincing illusions, than scientist or serious prophet. In practice, once you’re into the process of actually writing a work of fiction, the story itself gets to be more important than futurology. You become more involved in following the fictional logic you’ve invented for your characters, the atmosphere, the rush of action; meanwhile, developing real possibilities recedes. You may find yourself even opting for the least probable event rather than the most probable, simply because you want the unexpected.

This resonated with me, because I often feel the same way about my own fiction. I’m not all that interested in extrapolating future trends for their own sake, mostly because I feel that other writers are better at it: instead, I’m more drawn to stories that put known facts into surprising juxtapositions that lend themselves to a final twist. And in practice, this often means that the plot turns on a highly unlikely combination of factors that I needed to make that particular story possible. (See “The Boneless One,” “Kawataro,” and just about everything else I’ve ever written.)

Obviously, I try to conceal any underlying improbabilities from the reader, mostly by following what I’ve called the anthropic principle of fiction, in which a story’s setting and basic premises are chosen to enable the twist, rather than the other way around. There’s no denying that there’s an element of sleight of hand involved, and you could even argue that it could be dangerous, especially when the requirements of an entertaining plot are confused with science fiction’s reputation for accurate predictions. As the great semanticist S.I. Hayakawa wrote in an early review of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics:

I have long felt that there are dangers to the writer as well as to the reader in pulp fiction. It did not occur to me until I read Dianetics to try to analyze the special dangers entailed in the profession of science-fiction writing. The art consists in concealing from the reader, for novelistic purposes, the distinctions between established scientific facts, almost-established scientific hypotheses, scientific conjectures, and imaginative extrapolations far beyond what has even been conjectured. The danger of this technique lies in the fact that, if the writer of science-fiction writes too much of it too fast and too glibly and is not endowed from the beginning with a high degree of semantic self-insight…he may eventually succeed in concealing the distinction between his facts and his imaginings from himself.

Tom Cruise in Minority Report

But we aren’t worried that an author of mystery novels, say, will become so enamored of his account of a perfect crime that he’ll feel obliged to carry it out himself. Science fiction, at least of the hard variety, differs from similar genres in that much of its appeal arises from its apparent foundation in fact. As a result, it’s easier to imagine an author failing to distinguish between reality and his own speculations, even as he elides that boundary in his fiction for the sake of a good story. In the interview quoted above, Jack Williamson talks about “the popular myth of [science fiction’s] futurological accuracy,” which is still a major aspect of the field’s reputation, and a reason why many writers are drawn to it in the first place—even though science fiction has a mixed track record at nailing down the details. If a story does happen to get something right, it’s often by accident, and incidental to the main thrust of the story. When we talk about movies that do a good job of predicting how the future might look, one of the first to come up is Minority Report, which makes some remarkably shrewd guesses about facial recognition, driverless cars, and gesture interfaces. What’s funny, of course, is that few of these gadgets have anything to do with the plot itself, which is based less on science than on fantasy: they have more to do with art direction than storytelling, and don’t have much to do at all with the original story by Philip K. Dick, who was far more interested in mood, theme, and paradox than in forecasting how we’d interact with our screens.

Yet that’s exactly as it should be, and it’s something that both readers and writers of science fiction should keep in mind whenever they think about the choice of futures that a story makes. Frederik Pohl once said: “The mistake you must never make about science fiction is in thinking that, because it is about the future, it is necessarily about the future.” Stanley Schmidt, the former editor of Analog, recently quoted Pohl’s reminder and followed it up with an observation of his own: “Writers in this field are seldom trying to predict what the future will be, but rather to imagine a wide range of ways it could be—and how each of them, if it came to pass, would affect our lives.” This is perfectly correct, but it’s also worth remembering why we do it. The novelist Georges Simenon stated that the goal of his fiction was to find situations that would oblige his characters “to go to their limit,” and that’s true of most good science fiction as well, with the difference that the inciting incident is something rooted, however tenuously, in scientific extrapolation. When choosing between futures, or between the consequences of a particular idea, we’re often less interested in what we think could actually happen than in what will put the most pressure on our characters, and, by extension, our readers. (This also explains why dystopian futures are so prevalent in fiction these days—they’re more immediately promising as a source of narrative material.) On its highest level, science fiction is about the possible, but in the trenches where readable stories are made, it’s often more about Aristotle’s plausible impossibilities. And if that weren’t true, these stories probably wouldn’t exist at all.

“He was visibly surprised to see the knife…”

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"Working late?"

Note: This post is the thirty-seventh installment in my author’s commentary for City of Exiles, covering Chapter 36. You can read the earlier installments here. Major spoilers follow for both The Icon Thief and City of Exiles.

I’ve spoken before of how tired I am of mechanical plot twists in suspense fiction, and particularly of how serial narratives, especially television shows, try to raise the stakes with the unexpected death of a major character. Of course, a thriller without a twist isn’t much of a thriller at all, and my objection has less to do with the quality or nature of any twist in itself than in its pathological overuse. The trouble with any trope that works is that writers tend to rely on it time and again, until, drained of all its original power, it settles into the status of a cliché. A real twist, as the term implies, should be a turning point, a moment in which the story takes on a permanently new direction, but in far too many novels, movies, and shows, it’s just business as usual, a continuation of a mode that leaves readers unsure of where they stand but saps the experience of much of its pleasure. Now that so many stories consist of twist after twist, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that one twist, judiciously employed, can be much more effective: good storytelling is about contrasts, and a twist gains much of its power from its juxtaposition with a narrative that, until then, seemed to be moving along more familiar lines.

In my case, it helps that the two most striking twists in The Icon Thief and City of Exiles—at least as measured by reader response—were both the unexpected product of necessity. Ethan’s death scene in the first novel was a very late revision in response to a note from my agent, who felt that the character’s original departure from the story, in the form of a suicide, wasn’t especially satisfying. Rewriting the story to give him a more dramatic sendoff required surprisingly few changes elsewhere in the novel, although it upset the balance of the narrative enough to result in a new epilogue that drastically altered the course of the series. With City of Exiles, as I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t know that Asthana was the mole until I’d already finished the first half of the book, which survives in its published form essentially unchanged. In both instances, I’d like to think that the fact that these were both unplanned additions increases their impact: if the reader is surprised, it’s probably because I was, too. (Speaking candidly, I have a feeling that the corresponding twist in Eternal Empire doesn’t work quite as well, if only because it was baked into the story from the earliest drafts.)

"He was visibly surprised to see the knife..."

That said, a scene in which what seems like an ordinary conversation between two characters ends with one killing the other, in the first revelation his or her villainy, is a familiar one, so I had to work hard to make it feel fresh. The gold standard for such moments, as far as I’m concerned, is Jack’s valediction in L.A. Confidential, which has inspired countless imitations, from the sublime (Minority Report) to the workmanlike (24 and its successors, which have practically turned it into a tradition). If the version in City of Exiles works, it’s partially because the scene is written from Asthana’s point of view, putting the reader in her head as she feels increasingly uneasy around Garber, although the real reason for her wariness isn’t revealed until the last page. This kind of thing can feel like a bit of a cheat, and, frankly, it is. I played it as fair as I could, though, and while I essentially wrote the chapter as if Asthana were innocent and Garber a threat until that final turn, the logic holds up well enough on rereading. I don’t give the reader any false information; I just withhold a few crucial facts. And although this is an extreme example, it’s a familiar strategy in suspense fiction, which often relies on giving us only part of the picture.

While writing Chapter 36, I was also conscious that in its content and place in the story, it was uncomfortably close to the corresponding scene in The Icon Thief. I addressed this, first, by making the externals as different as I could. Along with narrating events from the killer’s point of view, I changed the setting—which is why much of the scene takes place in Garber’s car—and the murder weapon. (Asthana’s knife, a Spydero Harpy, is an obvious nod to its appearance in the novel Hannibal, and as the proud owner of one, I can testify that it’s a wickedly beautiful little tool.) I’m also pleased that it takes place in the shadow of the Battersea Power Station, one of the most striking buildings in London, best known from its appearance on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals. The choice of location was a pragmatic one: I wanted a secluded spot that was within a short drive from the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s headquarters in Vauxhall, and Battersea fit the bill perfectly. It also provides a resonant backdrop for Garber’s final speech about the centrality of energy to Russia’s political future, and how little the rest of the world can control it as long as it controls the flow of gas to Europe. I wrote those lines back in 2011, and in light of recent events, they seem even more true today…

Written by nevalalee

June 26, 2014 at 9:36 am

Looper and the secret of good science fiction

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There are a lot of things to recommend about Looper, the excellent new science-fiction thriller from writer and director Rian Johnson, but one of my favorite elements is the movie’s time machine. It looks something like an industrial washer-dryer, and we only see it for a few seconds, housed in a dingy warehouse somewhere in China. To use it, you just shove someone inside, and he comes out the other end at a specific location thirty years in the past. None of the characters seem especially interested in knowing how it works, any more than we’d be curious about, say, the mechanics of our local subway—and this is exactly how it should be. Like Inception, which never really explains its dream invasion technology, Looper takes its biggest imaginative leap for granted, which accounts for a lot of its brainy but grounded appeal. (Actually, to be perfectly accurate, time travel is only the second-biggest imaginative leap in the movie…but I can’t say anything more without giving the plot away.)

This is how science fiction ought to be: less science, more fiction. I don’t know what the writing process behind Looper was like, but I imagine that Johnson received a fair amount of pressure from outside readers to spell out this information in greater detail—studio executives love exposition—and managed to resist it. (Evidently, Johnson shot, or at least conceived, a special-effects sequence depicting the process of time travel, with the help of Primer director Shane Carruth, but none of this seems to have survived in the final cut.) Instead, he takes time travel as a given and uses it to tell a complicated but always lucid story that cleverly teases out the potential of its premise. I’m a sucker for time travel movies with even a modicum of ambition—I even liked Déjà Vu—and Looper deserves a lot of credit for presenting its paradoxes without holding the audience’s hand. It’s hard to overstate how difficult this is, and one of the movie’s great virtues is that it makes it look so easy.

This is, in short, a very smart screenplay, and it’s one that I expect to cite approvingly at various points on this blog. Among other things, it provides one of the best recent examples of the anthropic principle of fiction, by casually introducing telekinesis as a minor plot point—certain characters can move small objects with their minds, but only at the level of a parlor trick—in order for it to pay off down the line in a major way. It doesn’t indulge in stylistic flourishes for their own sake, but it’s more than capable of big formal conceptions when necessary, as in one dazzling montage that follows one possible timeline over the course of three decades. It quietly develops two persuasive futures without making a point of it, and gives us an unusually interesting supporting cast. (I especially liked Jeff Daniels in the role of a man from the future, whose knowledge of coming events is rivaled only by that of Will McAvoy.) And it’s also ready to make its leads unsympathetic, as when the character played by Bruce Willis makes an agonizing choice that few other movies would be willing to follow to its logical conclusion.

If there’s one small disappointment that prevents Looper from becoming a stone classic out of the gate, it’s that its action isn’t quite as inventive as the story surrounding it. There’s nothing that says an innovative science-fiction thriller is required to deliver sensational action, but when you look at the short list of recent movies that have pushed the envelope in the genre—The Matrix, Minority Report, Children of Men, and Inception—you often find writers and directors who are just as eager to show us something new on a visceral level as to tell us a mind-bending story. Looper doesn’t seem as committed to redefining its boundaries in all directions, and its chases and gunfights are all fairly routine. (Its most memorable action beat is a direct lift from The Fury, but not remotely as effective.) Still, that shouldn’t minimize what Johnson has accomplished: he’s set a lot of challenges for himself, met nearly all of them, and come up with one of the two or three best movies I’ve seen all year.

Written by nevalalee

October 1, 2012 at 9:59 am

Adjusting The Adjustment Bureau

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Last week, my wife and I rented The Adjustment Bureau, a movie that, aside from its clunky title, seems to have a lot going for it: a cast that includes Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and the great John Slattery; a talented screenwriter, George Nolfi, in his directorial debut; and a nifty premise, courtesy of Philip K. Dick. Apparently there’s a team of supernatural adjusters, taking the form of sinister men in hats, whose job is to make sure that the world proceeds according to “the plan,” as defined by an unseen Chairman. The adjusters make whatever changes are necessary to keep our lives on track, but encounter an unexpected problem when David Norris, a congressman running for Senate, accidentally falls in love with Elise Sellas, a dancer in New York, threatening to put both of their lives—and the future of the world, obviously—off course.

The resulting movie is reasonably enjoyable, but content to coast on the level of light fantasy, and in retrospect, it’s hard not to lament all the wasted potential. The questions the film implies but never answers are endless: Is there another adjustment bureau above the one we’ve seen, and so on ad infinitum? Can adjusters abuse the system to their own ends? Does a second team of adjusters work for Satan? Is it possible for a man like David to cleverly game the system? Why doesn’t David blame the adjustment bureau for the deaths of everyone in his family, which the bureau could have prevented? We’re told that the adjusters have trouble dealing with bodies of water—does this mean that we have more free will on boats, or small islands? Was 9/11 part of the plan? And why does the poster and tagline for The Adjustment Bureau look so much like the one for Michael Clayton?

These may seem like nitpicky questions, but part of the pleasure of speculative fiction comes from the author’s exploration of the implications of his premise. A movie like Being John Malkovich isn’t content just to show us a portal into a famous actor’s brain—it also asks what would happen if Malkovich entered his own portal, or tried to push invaders down into his subconscious. Inception didn’t just give us its characters entering a dream, or a dream within a dream, but five levels of dreams, and cheerfully exploited the paradoxes of time dilation and our notions of dreams vs. reality. And perhaps most relevantly, Minority Report, also a mainstream action movie based on a story by Philip K. Dick, began by telling us the rules of precrime, then showed us how a smart individual could subvert the system, resulting in a surprisingly satisfying mystery. These films began with a great premise and drilled deeper, while The Adjustment Bureau is content to skate along the surface.

Part of the problem is that with the film’s biggest star playing David, the movie naturally gravitates toward the love story, which is much less compelling than the workings of the bureau itself. (If Damon had signed on to play one of the adjusters instead, we might have gotten a much more intriguing film.) As it stands, the central story could have been a great first act for a more ambitious movie, but taken on its own, it’s a little thin, and also thematically unsatisfying. The Adjustment Bureau knows that it needs a hero with a grand destiny that will go unfulfilled if he doesn’t agree to the plan, so it turns David into a future President of the United States. Fine—a movie doesn’t need to be subtle. But in the process, it reduces Elise to a character who is defined entirely by the impact she has on her more important male counterpart’s life. It would have been more interesting, perhaps, to get to the end and discover that Elise, not David, was the one whose life was truly important to the balance of the universe. But that’s more ingenuity, alas, than The Adjustment Bureau seems willing to expend.

Written by nevalalee

September 6, 2011 at 8:54 am

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