Anthony's Film Review

Being John Malkovich (1999)

A dark comedy exploring a wacky and unusual idea...

Being John Malkovich explores a simple hypothetical question. What would you do if you could spend a few moments inside the brain of someone else? When I heard about this movie, I thought it could be an interesting one. After all, if you're going to step beyond the bounds of reality, you have to explore new ground and give the audience a unique story. Therefore, I expected that this idea would be funny and thought-provoking at the same time.

It seems promising from the start. John Cusack is Craig Schwartz, a talented but unemployed puppeteer who lives with his wife Lotte, played by Cameron Diaz. Craig takes a job as a file clerk in an unusual place. He works on floor 7 1/2 of an office building. That's right. Floor 7 1/2, right between the seventh and eighth floors. He does take the time to flirt with a beautiful coworker named Maxine, played by Catherine Keener. Then Craig discovers a small door in a wall behind a filing cabinet. Naturally, he is curious enough to open it.

What lies beyond the door is a long narrow tunnel sloping down to some unknown place. Craig crawls the first several feet of it, then notices the door close behind him as he is blown down the tunnel. He doesn't crash, however. Instead, he stops at a window through which he can see things through someone's eyes. He soon finds that it's not just any person's eyes. It's the eyes of actor John Malkovich. (Why this actor in particular? I don't know.) Being the actor is a neat experience, but a short-lived one. After 15 minutes, Craig is sent backward and reappears at the New Jersey turnpike.

Other characters try out this bizarre trip into John Malkovich's head, including a line of strangers who pay $200 to do so. For the main characters of Craig, Lotte, Maxine, and John Malkovich, some interesting things happen. Relationships break and form. John starts to go crazy. Craig, Lotte, and Maxine discover more to John's brain than just seeing through the 15-minute window. And if you're looking for an explanation about the portal into John Malkovich's head, you can expect that, too.

While the events throughout the film were interesting, they were just interesting enough to follow. I did nod with approval at the comic story that played out. The main reason I'm not rating the film any higher is simply the lack of purpose. What is the point of this story? Is there an underlying moral message? I would have liked some more depth. Otherwise, Being John Malkovich is an OK movie.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Being John Malkovich, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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