Being John Malkovich Movie Review

The question on everybody's lips would be: Why John Malkovich?

The centerpiece of Being John Malkovich, in case you haven't guessed, is a portal, which provides the unique opportunity to "be John Malkovich." As one character, when approached with the chance, exuberantly improvises, "Great! That was my second choice." Which leads us right back where we started. Why John Malkovich?

You've probably guessed that Being John Malkovich is a bit off-center as far as major motion pictures go. In short, the plot revolves around a puppeteer (John Cusack) who discovers the aforementioned portal after assuming a day job as a fileclerk, his homely wife (Cameron Diaz), the woman he falls hopelessly in love with (Catherine Keener), and the effects that this portal has on each of these characters, and to a lesser degree on its host, John Horatio Malkovich (John Malkovich).

The premise isn't the only thing that is odd about this film. The characters are odd, (a puppeteer). The casting is odd, (Cameron Diaz as homely). The camera work is best described as claustrophobic. The settings are disheveled. And the two major locations outside of John Malkovich's psyche, the 7 1/2th floor of an office building, and the Jersey Turnpike, can only make one wonder what exactly is going on here.

Maybe Being John Malkovich is a sociological study. Maybe it was intended as an intelligent examination of personal identity, our society's obsession of being somebody else, and the capitalist instinct. More likely it flowered from an intriguing concept in the mind of first-time screenwriter Charlie Kaufman into an intriguing story.

There's no denying that Being John Malkovich is definitely a refreshing, often hilarious story. Jonze, a unique visionary in music videos and awards show performances up till now (see Fatboy Slim's choreography in the 1999 MTV music awards), is without doubt the right man for this directing job. The originality of the entire concept will delight all of you moviegoers out there with an obsessive urge to find something completely different. The premise, the plot, and the performances offer plenty to think about. But don't think too long, or the despairing logic it is all built on might collapse.

But you're still wondering: Why John Malkovich? I couldn't say.

Milk: It's what's for dinner.


Being John Malkovich Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, 1999


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