Being John Malkovich

January 24, 2010
Despite this being Spike Jonze's directorial debut, I was actually introduced to Jonze through his latest film in 2009 - Where The Wild Things Are. Much to my appreciation, Being John Malkovich contains the same great and eccentric style his latest film had, a style which I've come to appreciate as Jonze's own which separates him from the "rest of the flock". While I thought Where The Wild Things Are was just *slightly* better than this, the film still holds up as a surreal, yet original and interesting, narrative.

To sum up the plot's concept, the film revolves around four basic main characters. First, there's Craig the puppeteer. While puppets are truly Craig's passion, there isn't really a place for " the art of puppetry " in this day and age. This, in turn, leads to Craig having look for work at a company called LesterCorp. Our second main character is Craig's wife, Lottie, who's obsessed with animals and owns many exotic pets. Third, there's Maxine, the seductive co-worker of Craig's who just as 'sexy' as she is cruel. Finally, we have our titular character, and real-world actor, John Malkovich. The film follows these four individuals after Craig, after dropping some files, comes across a "portal" which allows one to go into the mind of John Malkovich.

As if that concept wasn't eccentric enough, the execution of these characters' actions is just as, if not, just as surreal. I don't want to give too much away, though, as the film is best when going into it with no preconceptions of the director, plot, or characters. One non-spoiler exmaple, though, would be the floor where Craig works. Instead of working on, say, the eight or ninth floor, Craig work on the "7 1/2th" floor. This area can only be accessed if one has a crowbar handy, as the place can only be reached via elevator.

I love the flow of this film, as well. Everything from dialogue, to actions, and so on and so forth. All of it flows naturally and realistically, albeit in Jonze and Kaufman's own unique/surreal way. especially in the first act of the film, everything just feels right - if that makes any sense. All of the pieces just work together to create a brilliant, original, smart, and funny film. Though the second and final act of the film fall when compared to the first, they still both hold up greatly as quality entertainment.

Complaint-wise, I do have a few issues I'd like to point out. To begin with, I absolutely hated the character of Maxine aka Craig's co-worker/vixen. I didn't mind this at first, as I knew I wasn't supposed to like her because of the way the film played out. Later on, however, we're meant to side with and sympathize with her - despite how manipulative and cruel she was to EVERYONE she knew. As if this weren't bad enough, characters we had come to trust begin to become difficult to sympathize with as well. I won't reveal any spoilers, but it just made me feel emotionally distant during some parts of the film. I understand trying to have flawed and imperfect characters, but this just too much.

Despite some character hiccups during the second and third acts of the film, Being John Malkovich is still a quality film. Containing a variety of interesting and highly original ideas, the film brings itself together dramatically, comedically, and artistically into a smart, funny, and sometimes disturbing film.

8.5/10 - Great

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