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The Adjustment Bureau


Liberalism & free will

This starts like the Barack Obama movie – up to somebody saying thinking seriously is above his pay grade. The meteoric rise of a young politician who merely flatters people by allowing them to associate with him, but who has never accomplished anything. This young man talks about how young people will win & how important they. But he loses the election, in a show of poetic justice…

He is perfectly progressive; the press calls him authentic. He even has a moment of truth where he shows how phony politics can be – confessing to his electorate the truth is the minimum necessary for an uplifting & truly visionary liberal politician & ex-frat boy. James Carville sings his praises; Jon Stewart self-effacingly worships him. Sure enough, college kids in odd clubs recognize him, they vote for him, & he is their man. This America exists only to worship JFK.

Act 2 changes everything. Fresh from defeat, he meets a woman, the kind that advertises New York: young, English, unattached, jumps in his arms, takes abandonment in her stride, is always within reach & will not admit it.

Whatever your opinion of her, it appears there is a cosmic conspiracy against this man’s happiness. A bunch of white people are in control of the universe & one black man is the good spirit who will save the day completely disinterestedly. But this was originally a Philip K. Dick idea, so you must expect platitudes, but I will spare you the world-historical conceits. In short, the cosmic conspiracy white guys offer him the presidency, but Matt Damon is too big for that.

He will choose the private life, because he loves this woman. Maybe he is just not a political creature – he never seems to consider anything in political terms anyway. He says all he has is the choices he makes – cliche latter-day liberalism, too weak to survive. Liberalism used to be about human greatness, its champions were men like Washington and Jefferson. Now, we’re told, the White House is a compensation for erotic failures. Well, that brings us back to another Democrat president… This ironically confirms the world-historical conceit that Ancient Rome existed for the sake of latter-day liberalism…

Act 3 is half the movie. I think it means to explain why we love & how to achieve happiness. – Sacrifice & tough choices appear, both unattractive, so I will spare you.

Why we fight for what we think is ours seems like the central thing: it seems the director thinks that our fighting for ourselves makes us human. He does not wonder whether understanding the importance of fighting for ourselves makes us human. Or that fighting for ourselves is foremost understanding ourselves…

For fans of Matt Damon