****/**** Image A+ Sound A+
starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour
screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, semi-based on the novel The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean
directed by Spike Jonze
by Walter Chaw A breathless map of the nervous play of axons and dendrites, Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation. is an intimate cartography of the human animal in all its florid insecurity, ugliness, and potential for passionate pursuit. In relating its tale of screenwriter Kaufman's existential wrestle with adapting Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, the picture takes on a tangle of Lacanian meta-observation that begins with the nervy creation of a Kaufman-doppelgänger/id-projection and ends with a literal destruction of said phantom. A deceptively simple film given all its contortions and acrobatics, Adaptation. is concerned with the ways in which a man doubts himself, doubts his relationships (as well as the implicit lie of the social "professional smile"), and learns almost too late the damnably difficult (for the intelligent and the sensitive) ability to accept the simple and the obvious at face value. The picture suggests that to be genuinely adaptive is to give oneself over to entropy armed only with the knowledge of self; more than right, its journey is fantastic.