Being John Malkovich


A Fly On The Wall Of Your Cranium

Main Cast: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich

Director: Spike Jonze

Being John Malkovich is a movie which starts out absurd and gets more so. Absurd situations and behavior are a set up to make the absurd premise easier to swallow. Once the premise is revealed and the price of admission (your suspension of disbelief) has been paid, the payoff awaits you.

Like good science fiction, this film makes use of the premise to explore some otherwise impossible-to-ask questions. The first of those questions is “What would you do if you could be a fly on the inside of someone else’s head for 15 minutes?”

With appropriate melancholy, John Cusack plays Craig, an out of work puppeteer who finds the doorway into John Malkovich’s head. A surprisingly plain Cameron Diaz plays his wife, Lotte, whose unhappiness with their relationship doesn’t manifest until the attractive and “edgy” Maxine (Catherine Keener) enters the picture. Maxine is John’s coworker and partner in exploiting John Malkovich by selling tickets to the “ride.”

Both Craig and Lotte are falling for Maxine, and their unwitting pawn, Mr. Malkovich, slowly comes to the realization that something is going on. As he finds out the truth, he wants to try the ride himself. How can Being John Malkovich go on from there? It does so by relegating John back to a minor character as the main characters in the love triangle now go for broke.

Will you like this film?

If you like films such as Eating Raoul, Brazil, and Yellow Submarine this is a film that will at least tickle your sense of humor.

An acquaintance of mine makes a comparison between this film and The Matrix. While they reside in different genres, there is a parallel. Both films explore a reality which allows the participants to divorce themselves from the normal consequences we experience in our lives. That kind of freedom is what makes a dream so compelling. Oddly, it is the very dreamlike quality of Being John Malkovich that gives it the realism that The Matrix lacks.

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