I’m looking at the blank screen in front of me and wondering how to begin my ranting about how much Adaptation floored me. I’ve already written around 3 false starts and 2 middle sections, those of which lie waste in some virtual trash bin in a far away data storage centre, forever lost to me. I have already made an excuse to myself that Adaptation was a difficult experience to process and so it will be a painful task to write about it. Maybe, I was afraid of my eventual failure of not being able to jot down what I feel, so as to protect my deflated self-esteem, I whispered sweet lies to myself. Aren’t the best lies those which we tell ourselves every day to be happy?

I know that Kaufman has done it again. He’s scarily right: it’s pathetic and ugly to put ourselves in the stuff we write. To know all of our flaws, to meet our scars midway and still, find a way around to live with ourselves. To write about our self degraded sense of being, our delusions of grandeur, our petty embarrassments and then, say hello to our ugly self as we re-read these never published drafts. But, if one is as uninhibited as Kaufman, who willingly let himself gets lost in such a glorious mess as in Adaptation, wouldn’t it smell like being born again? In all his honesty, isn’t Charlie Kaufman, behind his pained facade, a glowing genius?


When Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) agrees to adapt “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orleans (Meryl Steep) as a screenplay for a movie, the creative juices do not flow. The essence is not there, the structure was missing and something was just not adding up. He plans to acquaint the author in order to find a way out of his misery and well, things spiral out of proportions. It has been often seen that stronger the desire, the faster it vanishes. The most secret longings can sometimes be erased by the back of the hand and prestige passes faster than sand between the middle of fingers. Spike Jonze constructs Adaptation with a motley of themes ranging from the tiring process of creating something unique, battling with our very own alter egos and the choice of ranking our own righteous self above what others perceive of you.

Adaptation made me feel like holding a mirror in front of my face and not liking the image. It’s a towering creative achievement: one that confronts reality in the face of fiction, attracts sadness despite the abundant wit and then smirks at the emptiness of our feelings with an enormously meta third act.

Related Read to Adaptation (2002): Understanding Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking Of Ending Things


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