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EDITIONS
Monday, 3 March, 2003, 12:28 GMT
Adaptation
KIRSTY WARK: Rosie Boycott, after the convolutions of being John Malkovich, does this yet another strange mind bender work?

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
It works wonderfully. I found it much less mind-bending than John Malkovich.

It was a very straight plot, on the whole, and not funny. I read reviews of people saying they were roaring in the aisles. I thought it was a very moving, and in many ways wonderful and sentimental film.

You played the clip about Nicholas Cage going through his writer's block and your heart is with him.

He does a great job of playing the twin, because at all stages you know which one you are talking about. It's to do with his body, the way he moves himself. He is obviously the same guy, but you always know who you are with.

It was full of fantastic lines, this idea that people need to pursue a passion. A passion can change your life and that you need and want a focus. He has this kind of envy of la Roche, The orchid thief down in Florida, because he gets these passions and completely goes for them.

You can feel that Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep are people wandering around not quite knowing where they are going. There is a lovely line, because they are hunting for the ghost orchid, and they say at one point:

"Life is just like the ghost orchid. It is always just out of reach."

You feel that's very much what that film was also about.

KIRSTY WARK:
James Brown, what did you make of the writers writing about how difficult it is to write?

JAMES BROWN:
I think the thing that struck me was it was amazing that a film like this got made. It's so self-indulgent and self-referential. Then you realise it's about Hollywood, and Hollywood loves making movies about Hollywood.

All the writers in the cinema when we watched it, loved it. Anybody who has ever had trouble getting their creativity out to an audience will love it. Anybody who loves films will love it.

It was a film that became something it didn't want to be. He sets out at the beginning to create a film that hasn't got any violence, any sex, any drugs, any flashbacks or anything like that, and they all come. It's a very sharp, imaginative film. I enjoyed it a lot.

KIRSTY WARK:
But it's not like a typical Hollywood film. The combination of the two of them having had the success with Being John Malkovich, clearly felt that they could push the boundaries again?

NATASHA WALTER:
Yes. I was disappointed that they didn't push the boundaries more. I was not nearly as taken by this film as you all were.

I did like the idea of the central joke of the script writer writing himself into a script, but why did it have to be so laborious?

You mentioned the lines like, "Life, it's just out of reach." We got them so often. It was such a repetitive script. The line from the clip about, "I am pathetic, narcissistic." How many times did he have to tell us that? It was a very repetitive film.

For me, you had these two different plot lines, the Kaufmans and Susan Orlean; neither, for me, had enough human interest to make them come alive.

They were plot mechanisms. Whether I was with one or the other, I was waiting for the twist to bring them into collision. Moment by moment, I wasn't taken up. It was a waiting game.

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
But they did come together in the end.

NATASHA WALTER:
Yes in the end they did. Then, I thought, "Yes, all the stops are going to be pulled out. There will be a fantastic finale. He is going to really spoof, great big send-up." But it was just farcical.

JAMES BROWN:
A guy got eaten by an alligator! What more of a collision could you have?

NATASHA WALTER:
It was so improbable. Obviously it was meant to be. It was just so farcically done, it was just pasted on. It didn't come out of the emotional impetus of the rest of the film.

JAMES BROWN:
In two scenes, it went from Woody Allen to Miami Vice. It was like watching a live event, not a film. You could never sit and think, "I know what's going on." I was enjoying wondering what's coming next.

You are right, he is just a fat-arsed paranoid slacker in a bad shirt. I found the other bloke more interesting.

You were looking for conflict. I liked it when the two characters came together, and the more commercial one started directing the film. It was a much better film then.

KIRSTY WARK:
Rosie was talking about how well Nicolas Cage delineated one twin from the other. Do you think they did as well with Meryl Streep's character? Did they give her enough of a life?

NATASHA WALTER:
I didn't feel they did. It was quite a mannered part. It's quite similar to the role that she does the Hours.

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
She cries well!

NATASHA WALTER:
It was a superlative performance.

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
What I thought was sad is you get this book with no ending, and Cage is struggling with the end like falling off a cliff.

In the book, she can't write the ending because she has had the love affair with the orchid hunter, which isn't good for this smart, slick, city woman who has an office on the eighth floor of the New Yorker building.

You can't end it and you have to construct the ending. I thought it slightly started to go off the wall, and I thought it lost its courage, in a sense.

NATASHA WALTER:
Yes, it did.

ROSIE BOYCOTT:
I thought why couldn't this film have gone out like that book did, gone out into a vacuum, and since James has semi-given away the ending, rather than people getting eaten by alligators in swamps!

KIRSTY WARK:
Not quite the end, do go and see the end for yourself.


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