Saturday, November 23, 2013
Indie Review: Being John Malkovich (1999)
'Being John Malkovich': A Refreshingly Original Yet Completely Bonkers Comedy
After watching this and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I can honestly feel grateful that there are some screenwriters out there who come up with amazingly new ideas. The film's writer, who also wrote Eternal Sunshine, Charlie Kaufman, certainly falls under that category, so I give him major kudos for bringing his creative and inventive mind to Hollywood.
Being John Malkovich is about a puppeteer named Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) who, at his new job, discovers a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. He then shows it to his pet-loving wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) and his sultry co-worker Maxine Lund (Catherine Keener). From there, all three discover just what it is like to literally become someone else.
What I Liked About It:
The thing that I loved the most about this movie is of course the story. Not only because it hasn't really been done before, but it manages to incorporate the theme of wanting to become someone else other than yourself. When we are down, there are those of us who tend who wish they had the life of someone else or wish they were someone else because of how they are richer or more famous or seem happier. The theme is definitely present with its main characters, in particular Craig and Lotte. Craig is a struggling down-on-his-luck puppeteer who becomes obsessed with the successful actor John Malkovich after stepping into his mind, and Lotte enjoys the experience of stepping into Malkovich's mind because it allows her to live out her transgendered desires. But if you think about it, the film has somewhat of a frightening quality to it, just because of the idea of somebody becoming you and trying to taking over your mind.
I also really liked the acting in this film. John Cusack does a fine job as Craig Schwartz, as he is both funny and crazily obsessive. Cameron Diaz is almost completely unrecognizable as Lotte Schwartz as she has frizzy hair and is made to look very plain, but she gives one of her best performances to date. Catherine Keener is also fantastic as Maxine, Craig's sexual and almost diabolical co-worker and I am quite glad she was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. John Malkovich is also fantastic as himself. He manages to play himself as if he was a fictional character, even though he is technically not playing a character, and to me, that shows just how he is one of the best character actors in the business.
What I Didn't Like About It:
Overall, Being John Malkovich is an original and hilarious yet somewhat horrific fantasy comedy. It not only makes you laugh, but touches on the theme of wanting to become someone else, and does it with such flare. I would highly recommend this.