051 - Being John Malkovich (1999)

Being John Malkovich is the story of when a failing puppeteer stumbles across a portal into John Malkovich's mind.

Craig Schwartz's (John Cusack) puppeteering career is going nowhere fast, and when his wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) suggests getting a job he reluctantly finds one as a filing clerk in a building with a mysterious half floor.

There he finds a portal into John Malkovich's head where he is able to see and feel everything that Malkovich does. His colleague, Maxine Lund (Catherine Keener), exploits the portal, charging $200 per entry.

Inevitably, Malkovich finds out about the portal, with bizarre consequences.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Being John Malkovich is, as mentioned, bizarre. If the entire concept surrounding the film seems in any way plausible, the meat that attaches to this brings the film into the downright weird. This isn't to say that Spike Jonze's creation is bad, though.

What Jonze has created is something that is - as far as I'm aware - unique. As with any film of this nature it could go either way depending if the critics understand exactly what the director's vision is. Even John Malkovich himself declined to take on the role until he was entirely convinced - two years after he was originally asked. Luckily, once you establish that Being John Malkovich is entirely odd, the film begins to make more sense.

As Craig, Cusack makes the role his. His portrayal of the desperate puppeteer is outstanding. Unfortunately, this acting is overshadowed by Malkovich himself. Having to take on multiple personalities that are shown in the film is a feat in itself, but having to do that about yourself brings his acting onto a whole new level.

Being John Malkovich is not a film for everyone. Some people will put it down after 10 minutes and utter words involving "not putting up with" and "this gibberish". Others though, will admire the bravery of a novice director in charge of his first feature length film.