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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Adjustment Bureau

Enthralling transcendental romance opens doors to corridors of ultimate power

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2010) An up-and-coming four-term congressman from Brooklyn, David Norris (Matt Damon) on the night of his expected election to the US Senate loses badly ("I didn't win Brooklyn") following an exposé in the New York Post of a college-reunion prank, featuring a photograph of his mooning people. In the men's bathroom while practicing his concession speech, he makes unexpected acquaintance with Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) - "I'm hiding from security" after crashing a wedding - who kisses him and inspires an honest address to his supporters about his campaign's lack of authenticity.

On his way to work for RSR, a venture-capital firm run by his former campaign chairman Charlie Traynor (Michael Kelly), he happens to find Elise sitting on the M6 bus. In hot pursuit of the public transport, having overslept on a park bench waiting for David, races Henry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), too late to prevent what has just happened.

Adapted by writer/director George Nolfi from "Adjustment Team," a short story by Philip K. Dick, this enthralling transcendental romance opens doors into the otherwise unseen corridors of ultimate power in the universe: "We only see part of the plan."

When David enters the RSR office building in downtown Manhattan, everyone he recognizes is frozen in place while gray-suited men in hats are startled to see him and chase after him. Caught and seated before a group of men - "We are the people who make sure things happen according to plan" - he's sternly informed by their leader Richardson (John Slattery): "Very few humans have seen what you've just seen today, and we're determined to keep it that way. So, if you ever reveal our existence, we'll erase your brain. The Intervention Team will reset you."

When a nudge is not enough to redirect someone back to the intended path, recalibration may be necessary. The fault lay with Harry; David was never supposed to see Elise again.

Released to resume his life, David accompanies Charlie to a conference for a deal involving the company's risky consideration of an investment in solar panels, a lucrative opportunity to change the world, a position which Charlie wholeheartedly favors (nudged toward David's viewpoint) while before he'd expressed opposition.

In the New York City Public Library, Harry approaches David with a promise to answer some questions on the ferry, where he explains his membership in the agency of Fate as a case officer (some say angels) - hats and water are limits to their powers - to David. "Why are you helping me?" asks David, to which Harry replies: "I have my reasons…. You won't find her."

Three years later, after riding the M6 everyday to work, he notices Elise on the sidewalk. Catching up with her, David apologizes, telling her that he'd lost her phone number and that on Google "Elise" produced 757,000 hits: "Look, whatever happens, I'm not going to let anything come between us again."

Once again he's announcing his candidacy for the Senate while she's becoming a recognized talent with the Cedar Lake Ballet Company. Even with its best efforts at diverting and interrupting the couple's attempts to remain together, Richardson's team, unable to keep up with David's persistence - "Too many ripples" and inflection points - kicks the problem upstairs to the Chairman.

When Thompson (Terence Stamp) "the Hammer" takes charge, Richardson says of David: "He has no idea what he's up against." Confronted - "You can't outrun your fate," says Thompson: "We tried to reason with you" - David questions: "Whatever happened to free will?"

After recalling the sorry, bloody history of humanity, Thompson expounds on the fact that people when given the opportunity to behave according to the grand design have repeatedly demonstrated immaturity at handling major responsibilities on their own, bringing the planet to the brink of complete calamity: "At that point a decision was taken to step back in again before you did something that even we couldn't fix. You don't have free will, David. You have the appearance of free will."

Further, according to the big picture, Thompson intimates David's significance ("You can matter. Really matter") within the scheme of things: "We give you opportunities other people would kill for, and you squander them with impulse." Having been personally involved in David's tragic family history - deaths of father and brother - Henry harbors his own doubts: "Is it right?"

Several celebrities appear in cameos, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Madeleine Albright, Chuck Scarborough, James Carville and Mary Matalin ("He had such promise"), and Jon Stewart (commenting on "the hideous abnormalities" in Washington, DC).

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2011 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)