The great Argentine writer, hoaxer, and modernist Jorge Luis Borges famously compared paradise to 'a kind of library.' I think he would have liked this film of doors transformed into spatial gateways, retro fashion meeting high-end technology, and angels in raincoats. If you've read enough of his stories you could, for a while, imagine that this film was based upon one. But it's too linear to be by Borges, so once again, if you've read enough of his stories you begin to realize that it must be based on something by Philip K. Dick, the author Hollywood returns to when they want to make high-end, middle-brow science fiction.
As a bibliophile and librarian, as a playful author and a man who didn't like straight answers, Borges would have delighted in the idea of angels (who may not be angels) headquartered in a building which resembles a library. Most of it is a library, but good art direction adjusts the filming locations as much as the angels try to adjust our heroes' lives, and a number of dizzying chases are meant to confuse us in any case. Adjustment Bureau HQ is recognizably the New York Public Library however, and not only the reading rooms - many of the corridors, staircases and doors which have rarely, if ever, appeared on screen before, are also from the NYPL Main Branch on Fifth Avenue.
|Matt Damon, chillin' in the NYPL|
George Nolfi does the uncanny quite well, especially for a first-time director. But it took me a while realize what was so wrong with the library he depicts. It is missing two significant kinds of object. The Reading Room has no books. Neither the Reading Room nor the Plan Room (where the lives of those of us living in the sublunary world are mapped out in giant white folios) have any librarians. The library seems to have been chosen as a filming location entirely for its non-book aesthetic.
|'This is where the plot starts making sense...'|
Director: George Nolfi
Written by George Nolfi, based on a story by Philip K. Dick
Cinematography: John Toll
Editing: Jay Rabinowitz
Original music: Thomas Newman
Cast includesMatt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery