While too many films suffer the fate of creative bankruptcy, Being John Malkovich
is a refreshing study in contrast, so bracingly original that you'll want to send director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman a thank-you note for restoring your faith in the enchantment of film. Even if it ultimately serves little purpose beyond the thrill of comedic invention, this demented romance is gloriously entertaining, spilling over with ideas that tickle the brain and even touch the heart. That's to be expected in a movie that dares to ponder the existential dilemma of a forlorn puppeteer (John Cusack) who discovers a metaphysical portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich.
The puppeteer takes a job working as a file clerk on the seventh-and-a-half floor of a Manhattan office building; this idea alone might serve as the comedic basis for an entire film, but Jonze and Kaufman are just getting started. Add a devious co-worker (Catherine Keener), Cusack's dowdy wife (a barely recognisable Cameron Diaz), and a business scheme to capitalise on the thrill of being John Malkovich, and you've got a movie that just gets crazier as it plays by its own outrageous rules. Malkovich himself is the film's pièce de résistance, playing on his own persona with obvious delight and--when he enters his own brain via the portal--appearing with multiple versions of himself in a tour-de-force use of digital trickery. Does it add up to much? Not really. But for 112 liberating minutes, Being John Malkovich is a wild place to visit. --Jeff Shannon
United Kingdom released, Blu-Ray/Region A/B/C DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Dolby DTS-HD Master Audio ), French ( Dolby DTS 5.1 ), German ( Dolby DTS 5.1 ), Italian ( Dolby DTS 5.1 ), Spanish ( Dolby DTS 5.1 ), Chinese ( Subtitles ), Dutch ( Subtitles ), English ( Subtitles ), French ( Subtitles ), German ( Subtitles ), Greek ( Subtitles ), Icelandic ( Subtitles ), Italian ( Subtitles ), Japanese ( Subtitles ), Korean ( Subtitles ), Portuguese ( Subtitles ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/Crew Interview(s), Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Craig, a puppeteer, takes a filing job in a low-ceilinged office in Manhattan. Although married to the slightly askew Lotte, he hits on a colleague, the sexually frank Maxine. She's bored but snaps awake when he finds a portal leading inside John Malkovich: for 15 minutes you see, hear, and feel whatever JM is doing, then you fall out by the New Jersey Turnpike. Maxine makes it commercial, selling trips for $200; also, she's more interested in Lotte than in Craig, but only when Lotte is inside JM. JM finds out what's going on and tries to stop it, but Craig sees the portal as his road to Maxine and to success as a puppeteer. Meanwhile, Lotte discovers others interested in the portal. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Australian Film Institute, BAFTA Awards, Ceasar Awards, Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards, Golden Globes, Oscar Academy Awards, Venice Film Festival, ...Being John Malkovich (Blu-Ray)