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Adaptation

As the follow-up to the weird and brilliant Being John Malkovich, indie kids of the moment Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman have created something weird, but not quite as weird, and good, but not quite as good.

It follows the life of the film's screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman (Cage). He's a balding, overweight, self-doubting, self-loathing nervous wreck with no prospects of attracting a woman and constantly grappling with the writing process.

His twin brother Donald (Cage as well, in the best use of the same actor in two concurrent roles before Moon) is freeloading at his house, trying to be a scriptwriter. He goes to Robetr McKee's (Cox) screenwriter's course, which Charlie thinks is for desperados, so it makes Charlie's life worse as everything goes right for Donald, getting a gorgeous makeup girl and having his ridiculous thriller film script snapped up.

Meanwhile, Charlie is trying to adapt a non fiction book for his next screenplay, based on a New Yorker article by Susan (Streep) a few years before about an irreverent Florida orchid enthusiast Laroche (Cooper). The story jumps between the present with Charlie struggling to inject life into a book that simply will not translate (but that he desperately wants to believe in) and the past (as Susan becomes more enamoured with Laroche.

You're never sure which story the film is about (even though both are interesting), and when both stories collide at the end, it turns too serious for no apparent reason and with no apparent result. You're not sure what the themes are (if any) or if you've missed the point, although the back-references to Being John Malkovich are funny.

Aside from feeling like the only Ken Done fan at a Picasso exhibition, the mood, dialogue and acting are brilliant - Cage is a rare treat as the balding loser, Cooper is sticking to great roles and displaying his breadth, and Streep is dependably good as ever.

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