George Nofi pulls off a relative rarity in his feature film debut -- which stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt -- by creating a genuinely romantic fantasy suspense thriller.
With vibes from such recent clever films as The Matrix, Duplicity and Inception darting through this adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story, first-time director George Nolfi has pulled off a relative rarity -- a genuinely romantic fantasy suspense thriller -- in The Adjustment Bureau. Quite low-tech as these things go and a great New York location film in the bargain (no Toronto doubling here, thank you very much), the picture nimbly scampers all over the city while betraying a disarmingly whimsical attitude toward the central couple's peculiar peril. Although more accessible conceptually and dramatically than either the Wachowskis' or Nolan's films, and possessing far more heart, this classy Universal release might nonetheless be perceived as too brainy and sophisticated for lowest common denominator mass consumption, indicating good but not great box-office results.
Equally responsible for keeping the viewer on the film's side is the excellent rapport between Damon and Blunt. Incorporating known aspects of Damon's personality -- his political interests, athleticism and thoughtfulness -- into the role helps David quickly assume three-dimensional stature. Damon also strongly conveys the character's wounded side as well as his sense, when it comes to Elise, of bewilderment and persistent hope. It's a satisfying, full-bodied performance.
For her part, this is the best Blunt has been onscreen since her early work in My Summer of Love and The Devil Wears Prada and certainly the film in which she seems most vibrant and alive in a romantic pairing; Elise sasses and tests David at every turn up to the point when she allows herself to become vulnerable and honest. For the film to pay off, it's imperative that you believe in these two despite it all. And you do.
Four-legged neighbors? Gotta think of them, too. Miles from Los Feliz, on a 450-acre ranch in Thousand Oaks, location manager Chris Baugh is overseeing the creation of that same film's zoo — made from scratch just for the movie. There are horses pastured nearby, and while everything seems bucolic and calm at the moment, that could change: Tigers will eventually populate the zoo set.
"Wait till we bring in the big cats," Baugh says.
Plus there'll be lots of other creatures on the film — flamingos, llamas, monkeys and the bear. For a six-week shoot, Chris Baugh will also have to provide facilities for the care, feeding and safety of a tamer group (one hopes): the cast and crew.
Director Cameron Crowe says it's all worth it, if it helps an actor like Damon.
"What was great was being able to bring him to these places and say, 'This is what we found.' And he immediately said, 'I feel the movie here. I can play this character,'" Crowe says.