"Adaptation" Is Released

Adaptation. is a 2002 comedy-drama satire film directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman.

The film is based on Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief through self-referential events. Adaptation stars Nicolas Cage (as both Charlie and Donald Kaufman), as well as Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingston and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film tells the story of Charlie Kaufman's difficult struggle to adapt The Orchid Thief into a film. In addition, Orlean romances with John Laroche while Charlie enlists the help of his twin brother Donald.

As in their previous collaboration, "Being John Malkovich," Spike Jonze and the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman concoct an intricate, scrambled parallel universe populated by anxious, itchy people, some appearing really to exist. The hero is Mr. Kaufman himself (Nicolas Cage), a screenwriter struggling to adapt "The Orchid Thief," Susan Orlean's nonfiction meditation on flowers, obsession and Darwinian theory. He is tormented by writer's block and by his twin brother, Donald (also Mr. Cage), an aspiring screenwriter and all-around doofus in his own right. Their sibling rivalry, which is also a metaphor for the pains of creativity, is interspersed with something that looks like an actual adaptation of "The Orchid Thief," in which Ms. Orlean (Meryl Streep) finds herself drawn to a scruffy renegade botanist named John Laroche (Chris Cooper). Then the plots overlap, collide and explode in a conclusion that is at once maddening, troubling and oddly moving. This is a remarkable, impossible movie — about itself but also about its own nonexistence — and one of the most formally audacious, intellectually charged American movies in quite some time. — A. O. Scott, The New York Times