Our destiny hides among our free choices, disguised as the free-est of all. ~Robert Brault
Spoiler Alert: Mel reviews and discusses the new movie The Adjustment Bureau and might accidentally blow a central plot twist for you. Reader beware
So I took myself to the movies last Friday night. I don’t usually mind going to the movies by myself. I’m generally confident enough sit alone in the dark the best part being, of course, that I don’t have to share the popcorn. But then again I usually have the good sense not to go to the movies alone on a “Date Night.” Talk about a hyper-single-awareness evening. And to top it off I went to see The Adjustment Bureau, which, as it turns out is quite the romantic movie. But despite the fact that it was a romantic movie and I was surrounded by romantic couples which only served to heighten the single-awareness, I actually still really liked the movie. It felt like kind of a cross between Sleepless in Seattle - the idea that the person that you’re meant to be with is out there somewhere, and City of Angels - the idea that angels are around us helping to keep things on track…with a little free will and It’s a Wonderful Life thrown in there for good measure.
The premise of The Adjustment Bureau is that there is a plan written for everyone (in what appear to be those black and white student composition books) and everyone’s plans kind of interconnect to affect the course of the world. And, as we go along through life there are “adjustment angels” that kind of nudge us along in the direction of the plan. So, for example let’s say you have plans with friends for the evening. Your drive home from work usually takes 15 minutes. But on one particular day you hit every red light along University Avenue which means that you’re running late and are not going to have time to make dinner before you meet your friends at the movies. So you decide, because you’re running late to stop at the new hamburger place up the street where you meet the new waiter (or waitress depending on your gender preference) who turns out to be the love of your life. You marry and have 4 kids, one of which turns out to discover the cure for the common cold. Now, were all those red lights just chance or, what is the Adjustment Bureau angels making sure that you followed the plan they had laid out for you and thus for the world? As the movie previews show, Matt Damon wants to be with Emily Blunt but the Adjustment Bureau doesn’t want that to happen because if it does she will never reach her potential of being a world famous dancer/choreographer and he will never reach his potential of becoming the President.
So it sounds like the “angels” are looking out for what’s best doesn’t it? Well, this is where the tricky part comes in. Who’s to say which plan is the best? How do we know which is the best “potential” to have realized? If the main characters are apart they achieve fame and success. But if Matt’s character is with Emily’s character, he will be happy and it will be enough. He won’t feel the drive and determination to keep looking for more and trying to win just one more election.
I thought that was an interesting question. We all have endless potential and endless directions that our lives can take and who's to say which path is the best? Who can say if it is the better life to become famous and powerful or to toil in anonymity but raise a good family and have a happy home? I think it’s good to have goals and it’s good to want to achieve things, but I also think that a truly valuable life can come in all shapes and sizes.
So go see The Adjustment Bureau, I think you'll like it. Plus it will give you something to think about that the next time you’re hitting nothing but red lights – both literally and metaphorically. Maybe your potential is about to find you, but maybe you’ve already chosen it for yourself - special notebooks and fate of the universe be damned. Just be sure to take someone with you on a Friday night.