New York Senatorial candidate David Norris (Matt Damon) and beautiful ballerina Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) were only supposed to meet once, for a brief second, and then never see one another again. But Fate’s design is undermined and the two over the succeeding years keep finding a way to return to one another’s embrace, and now that they’ve realized their in love no matter what the consequences not even a ‘Higher Power’ intent on keeping their freewill in check is going to break them apart.
Here’s what I wrote about this particular film way back in March:
“Based on the short story Adjustment Team by legendary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, the man’s whose books led to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, screenwriter and director George Nolfi’s The Adjustment Bureau is the year’s most refreshing and invigorating surprise. A romantic thriller with supernatural theological overtones, this witty and joyous adventure had me beaming ear to ear in happiness for all 105 minutes of its brisk running time.
Damon and Blunt are perfectly cast as the starstruck lovers kept apart by forces they cannot comprehend, the pair exuding a movie star aura of excellence comparable to Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint’s in North by Northwest or James Stewart and Grace Kelly’s in Rear Window. Their banter feels natural, lived-in and fresh, the screen coming alive every time they’re together. They are the engine that keeps things running in exquisite smoothness, and everything about the both of them is so confident and wonderful they become the type of Hollywood pairing (think Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn or Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) that I’d be girlishly giddy with enthusiasm to see more of.
The rest of the supporting cast is just as excellent, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and the great Terrence Stamp just superb as the ethereal ‘Adjustment Team’ assigned to keep the pair apart, while Michael Kelly makes the most of his scenes with Damon portraying the wannabe Senator’s best friend and trusted advisor. Nolfi handles all of his disparate pieces with a driving simplicity that’s refreshing, keeping the movie delicate in tone and light on its feet even when tension ratchets up on the two lovebirds tenfold.
I did not make those earlier comparisons to Hitchcock classics in passing. Truth of the matter is, Nolfi has made a suspense-filled romance the old master would have been proud of, comparisons to both the aforementioned North by Northwest and especially To Catch a Thief almost unavoidable. Those films were intense, there was danger circling their characters that was practically inescapable. But those movies had zip and they had zing, both manufacturing a romantic milieu that was unavoidably infectious, Hitchcock keeping things sprightly and gay even if the end result was potentially catastrophic and tragic.
I won’t say that The Adjustment Bureau should be mentioned in the same breath as those two timeless wonders (the former in particular), but I will say that Nolfi proves to be one of the few filmmakers out there that has shot for just that sort of playful Hitchcockian esthetic and come staggeringly close to hitting the bull’s eye. While there are hiccups, and while the script sometimes comes close to collapsing under the weight of its own somewhat disconnected aspirations, overall there is a beguiling romantic joviality the likes of which I can’t recall seeing in a major Hollywood release in quite some time. This is the kind of film I can’t wait to watch and enjoy again and again, and the chances I’ll head to the theatre to do just that – probably more than once – are much greater then you’d probably think.”
I’ve seen this movie four times now and it just gets better and better with each viewing. Damon and Blunt are a remarkable team, while Nolfi’s direction is as smooth as it is confident. The movie has a sexy, easy-going charm that belies its romantic sci-fi thriller roots, and by the time it was over all I wanted to do was go back to the beginning and start watching it again. The Adjustment Bureau is fantastic, pure and simple, and I hope that now it is available on DVD and Blu-ray more people are going to take the time to discover this simple truth for themselves.
The Adjustment Bureau is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The Adjustment Bureau comes with English, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks with optional English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles.
The following bonus material is featured on this disc:
· Audio Commentary with writer/director George Nolfi
· Leaping Through New York featurette
· Destined to Be featurette
· Becoming Elise featurette
· Deleted and Extended Scenes
The audio commentary with Nolfi is the chief attraction here, the filmmaker a pleasure to listen to even though he is prone to sudden stops resulting in some fairly long stretches of silence. But he goes into pretty solid detail in what it took to adapt Dick’s original story for the screen, and his insights into the rigors filming in and around New York are quite interesting.
The interesting part of the deleted scenes is that they introduce a character, Henderson, entirely cut from the finished film, and while I agree they should have remained excised the potential he might have added another intriguing dimension to the picture is absolutely undeniable. As for the featurettes, other than the one concerning Blunt and her dance training there’s not a lot here I’d say anyone is going to watch more than once.
The Adjustment Bureau is one of my favorite films of 2011. Watching it again was pure pleasure, and I couldn’t recommend people view it for themselves with any more sincerity. I just wish Universal had sent me the Blu-ray for review because I can only imagine the picture and sound quality in regards to it would have been stunning.