|Cast: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Tilda Swinton, Brian Cox, Ron Livingstone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Judy Greer|
Director(s): Spike Jonze
Genre: Social Drama
Well, after checking out 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind' and really admiring it, I decided to give this Charlie Kaufman-penned one a whirl too. I had put off seeing this for about the same reasons as I did ESOTSM, that is, my distaste for the star of the film over-ride my fondess of the writer and director. I should stop doing that, because a good script and direction should technically bring out the best of any actor. Cage was quite good here, playing opposite himself as twin brothers Charlie and Donald Kaufman - yes, the screenwriter wrote himself into the movie, as Cage writes himself into the movie he is penning as Kaufman in the film.....get it? There's a lot of that going on here, very meta and introspective, and it's uncertain how much of it is autobiographical (I suspect not too much). The story starts with Kaufman having writer's block and trying to finish a script adapted from a book on a seemingly stale subject - flowers. But metaphors abound, and as the story shifts back and forth between Cage's plight and that of Streep and Cooper's, more prominent themes of loneliness, failure, jealousy and false attainables pop up. There are aspects that reminded me of 'Barton Fink' (due for a rewatch), and Kaufman has a knack for taking dull subjects like screenwriting and orchids and plopping them down into a character story that holds your attention. Cooper won an Oscar for his efforts here, and there's brief but sweet turns by Cara Seymour and Judy Greer. The push-me-pull-you differences between Cage's twin brothers and the parallel similarities between plot trajectories are nice ways to offset the story's arc (wow, that sounded pretentious, but it's true!), and leads you towards a few surprises near the end. Creative storytelling, perplexing characters, great direction.
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