Projections - Movie Reviews

Being John Malkovich

Reality and fantasies meet in a Twilight Zone style script involving the real John Malkovich and various characters who occupy his body.

In a eccentric unbridled script by Charlie Kaufman, Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) a street puppeteer has found little success; his ten year marriage to Lotte (Cameron Diaz) has grown bland.  Her great passion is to care for the pets she takes home from the pet store where she is a workaholic.  Kaufman is forced to take a job as a filing clerk at LesterCorp, a small company located on the 7½ floor of Manhattan's Mertin-Flemmer office building.  While walking bent down on the floor 7½, which is only about five feet high, he becomes obsessed with Maxine (Catherine Keener) a sexy colleague.  Feeling exasperated he slams a file drawer causing a file to fall behind the cabinet, behind the cabinet he finds an old boarded up door which, when opened, leads to a passageway.  Kaufman climbs in and is suddenly sucked through a dark, wet tunnel, sees bright lights and suddenly is in the head of John Malkovich, he is John Malkovich.

The paradox which is created, brings forward all manner of opportunities particularly when Maxine enters Malkovich's mind followed by Lotte.  If Schwartz can't have sex with Maxine, can Malkovich when Schwartz is in his head.  If that case exists who would be the father of the child, even more enticing, if Lotte is the one in Malkovich's head who is the father, Malkovich or Lotte?

Dr. Lester (Orson Bean) is the delightful leader of the corporation and a former participant in the tunnel when it lead to a different human body.  Who John Malkovich will be in the end is an open question.

Malkovich, performs strikingly well while invaded by another presence.  Not as obvious as Robert Downey Jr. in Heart and Souls or Steve Martin in All of Me, he rails at the pulling and tugging in his head and at being taken over, while he retains a serene calm on the surface.

Being John Malkovich is a unique, innovative and probing journey.  To enter and enjoy the process, reality and barriers must remain at home.

Being John Malkovich
A Top Ten pick for 1999

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