Some Reviews of Adaptation

Roger Ebert: “Adaptation is a movie that leaves you breathless with curiosity, as it teases itself with the directions it might take. To watch the film is to be actively involved in the challenge of its creation.”

Todd McCarthy: “One of the many self-reflexive jokes in Adaptation. is that Kaufman, whose stack of anxieties and neuroses makes Woody Allen look like a carefree bon vivant, has to make everything he writes about himself. How he manages this feat in this case, which started out as an assignment to do a straight adaptation of a non-fiction book about an obsessive orchid breeder in Florida, represents the core of the film, one which is packed with industry references but not in a way unfriendly to the general viewer.”

A.O. Scott: “After all, one of the movie’s reigning conceits is that the boundary between reality and representations of it — between life and art, if you want — is highly porous, maybe even altogether imaginary. Another is that obsessive manias — for instance, the passion for certain forms of plant life that afflicts some of the characters — reproduce themselves like madly pollinating wildflowers.”

Ed Gonzalez: “There’s an overwhelming sense in both the novel and the film that Orlean would have knocked her front teeth out if it meant she could be happy. In researching orchids, Orlean discovered that the plants—what with their vigilant need to guard themselves against self-containment—were not unlike humans themselves. When Charlie learned to research Orlean and not her book, he was able to find a portal into her world of flowers and one straight into his own brain.”

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About Kevin L. Ferguson

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing at Queens
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One Response to Some Reviews of Adaptation

  1. Before, I typed my post for this week, I read some of those reviews and I still wasn’t moved by them. We all know that reviewers are not always right. I hated A.O Scott’s review the most because of his flawed distinction between reality and representation. Everything you think is reality is representation. I’m both a representation of a man and a gay man, etc. His use of “reality” makes it seem as if “reality” is a monolithic thing. But reality is really just perspective and perception and perspective/perception is just representation; therefore, reality is representation. Adaption is one perspective from reading a book. It creates one reality that can be extrapolated from a book. No? And the book is a representation — a perspective, a perception — of something that’s been channeled and interpreted through the experience of the writer.

    The movie reminds me of a writer who writes about writing. I’ve seen literature about the writing process, but not as a fully realized novel. I could be wrong. What I’ve read are personal notes later published about a writer talking about writing and the writing process. Is there literary theory about writing, yes? But *Adaptation* isn’t about theory in the same sense of Barthes writing about the reader/writer dichotomy. The movie screams to me, “Look at me. Look at how hard I had to work to writer this. And you are going to love this. You are going to pay your money for it. And I’m going to win an Oscar for it.” I get it: you had a difficult time writing the screen play, but I feel like the book gets lost out there somewhere and in your need to be different and be considered a film genius, the film become about you.

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