Consciousness is a terrible curse. I think, I feel…I suffer.
There are certain directors who shifted the Hollywood cinema at the end of the old and beginning of new century with their different content and form, most of them played game with their audience’s traditional mindsets and expectations from the movie. They involved and intrigued the audience through their unusual plot, characters, presentation and narration; gradually they becomes the prominent and successful directors of today’s Hollywood whose every new film now grabs attention. So we have David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky, Christopher Nolan and then we have gifted writers whose impression over film permeates even the director as an auteur of the film. One of such name is Charlie Kaufman. This is the debut and first full length feature film written for screen by him and it’s brilliantly executed on screen by Director Spike Jonze.
Craig Schwartz is an unusual puppeteer who rather than entertain, irritates his audience. He indulges getting into the skin of other through puppets and seeing what they see and feeling what they feel. He lives with his wife in in an animal menagerie home. He has no job or talent except puppet. His nimble and dexterous hands are needed in an advertisement published on a newspaper. He visits Lester Corp located on mysterious 7 ½ floor low ceilinged building where he encountered weird and unusual Dr. Lester and a mysterious woman named Maxine to whom Craig got sudden attachment. But the mother of this entire intricate and complex plot lies in Craig’s accidental discovery of hidden tiny door behind his file cabinet in office. It works as a portal which takes one to the world of a celebrity actor named John Malcowich, where one can see the world through his eyes for 15 minutes and ends up into a turnpike. Maxine and Craig made a business out of it where for 200 bucks anybody can be John. The world turns upside down for all characters being John and then one fine day original John Malcovich turned up into the portal…the rest is all too complex, intriguing and bizarre cinematic journey by the one of the marked man of unusual screenplay writing about human mind.
Kaufman is the man who loves getting into the inner reality of his characters’ minds where human consciousness and its suffering push them into unknown imbroglio. Watching Kaufman films demands certain amount of alertness for viewers as anytime his characters turns into minds, his stream of consciousness narration puzzles and add intrigue into already complicated plot. John Cusack plays Craig and I think it’s one of his memorable role, if not the best, Cameron Diaz played one of most unrecognizable act of her career as Lotte, his wife. But the man to watch his John Malkowich, who’s playing himself highlighting his public image.
Though my favorite Kaufman film remains ‘The Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind’ for so many cinematic and personal reasons; this one is again recommended watch for all those who wanted to rise out of slumber and needs a jolt from their relaxed traditional movie watching experience.