Funny how things change in a decade. When I first saw the Matt Damon film The Adjustment Bureau (2011), it seemed chaotic and I really didn’t understand the narrative. There were so many intricate layers to the plot that seemed to elude me at the time.
Based on the 1954 Philip K. Dick science-fiction short story, “Adjustment Team,” George Nolfi’s production bears only a passing resemblance. Dick’s adaptation centers around a real estate salesman named Ed Fletcher, who deviates from his normal routine and arrives late to work one day.
While this may not appear to be a major transgression, it actually sets off a chain of events that results in Ed witnessing a murky grey underworld that exists in a parallel dimension. Paralyzed with fear and not comprehending how he was able to “glance behind the curtain” Fletcher manages to make it back to his particular timeline unscathed or so he thinks.
Instead, he finds himself being pursued by shadowy figures and transported out of his bland suburban existence into a world where an enigmatic character known only as the “Old Man” calls all the shots. Fletcher is summoned to a meeting with this mysterious entity where he is threatened with death if he reveals any details of the other “life” that he stumbled upon.
One could hypothesize that the “Old Man” might be a god-like figure or even the Great Being himself. The idea that something sinister lies beyond the veil of what is real and not real isn’t a new idea. Just watch The Matrix (1999) which relies heavily on that concept. Some scientists have actually theorized that we might be living in a simulation and that there is a “Game Master” who is in charge of our individual paths in life.
George Nolfi’s interpretation of Dick’s work while it has much of the same elements adds a twist. The notion of twin flames is thrown into the mix. For those that aren’t familiar with this metaphysical concept, it is believed that before we incarnate on earth as humans, certain souls make contracts with one another to find their counterparts across space and time. They are known as the “Divine Masculine” and the “Divine Feminine.” The bond that they share is sacred and cannot be denied or destroyed.
An excellent example of this is seen in Francis Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Mina (Winona Ryder) is the reincarnation of Vlad’s (Gary Oldman) wife, Elisabeta. They were fated to meet and this is why they are immediately attracted to one another because they share the same soul. Hence, “I have crossed oceans of time to find you.”
In The Adjustment Bureau, George Nolfi has his own version of the twin souls dynamic. David Norris (Matt Damon) is a young and charismatic senatorial candidate. Poised to win the election, his hopes are dashed when an old scandal from college rears its ugly head and he loses by a landslide.
Alone in a bathroom, working on his concession speech, he has a chance encounter with a winsome dancer, Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), who is hiding from hotel security after crashing a wedding. Although they only speak for 15 minutes or so, the pair have an easy rapport as if they had known one another all their lives.
On impulse, David kisses Elise and his entire life changes. Before he can get her telephone number, she disappears after being spotted by two security officers. Enchanted, Norris goes on to make a memorable speech that sets him up for the next election. However, none of that matters. All he can think about is Elise and this is what he is focused on.
What he doesn’t know is that he has “diverted from the plan” and this has put him on the radar of the “Adjustment Bureau.” These beings are supernatural and have special abilities. They are able to bend time and space at will to appear wherever they want and to alter circumstances. Basically, they oversee what we do on earth and if we deviate from the script, they step in and correct our course.
John Slattery is the head of these “adjustors.” Known only as Richardson, one of his subordinates Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie) is assigned to David Norris. Harry’s sole function is to keep his charge on track. So far, he hasn’t had any issues until now.
He is tasked with keeping Elise and David apart because if they do get together, it could jeopardize the planet. See, Norris is destined to be the President of the United States. If he does not assume his “rightful” place, there may be severe consequences.
Now, Harry has to thwart the pair at every turn by engineering certain events to keep them apart. While he does not believe they should be separated, he realizes that he has a job to do. However, David is very determined and no matter what is thrown his way, he won’t be deterred from reuniting with his divine feminine.
The duo “meets” again on a bus after their initial encounter because Harry was late at orchestrating a diversion. Of course, they are able to pick up where they left off and finally, Elise gives David her number. Because Harry couldn’t stick to the schedule, once again, a ripple effect is caused. Meanwhile, Richardson and his team are performing “maintenance” on David’s colleagues and friends at the investment house where he works, so that they continue to keep Norris in line. However, in the midst of everything, David walks in and immediately upsets the apple cart.
Frustrated that he now has to explain what was being done to Harry’s charge, Richardson confronts him and tells him that he is forbidden to see Elise. He destroys her phone number. When David asks why, Richardson doesn’t have an answer for him which only ignites the passion within David to find his mate. Later on, trying to wrap his mind around the events that he just witnessed, he sits alone in a bar. Harry approaches him and explains that he needs to fulfill his life’s purpose but inwardly he knows that his words have no effect.
Unfortunately, nothing runs smoothly for the couple. “Life” gets in the way and they go through periods of separation where they don’t speak or see one another making Elise the “runner” and Norris the “chaser.” Nolfi understands this relationship which does occur in real life and not just on the big screen.
Have you ever met someone and felt as if you knew them right away? You find that instead of being awkward and shy, you are actually able to open up to them. Literally, it is like you have become another person, a better version of yourself. That is because you feel comfortable with them. Your soul and their soul are very old friends. It’s like seeing your best pal after years of being apart. There are non-believers out there that say the idea of destiny is just a romantic fallacy but if it were, would so many artists write stories, poems and songs about it?
When Elise and David are apart, they don’t stop living, they continue campaigning and dancing both on the road to fame and fortune but inside, they are hollow and going through the motions. Once you have met your intended, you can date all you want but no one will match up to him or her. While things are not optimum, the adjustors have called in their best man to ensure that Norris and Sellas’ lives will never intertwine again. Thompson a.k.a. “The Hammer” (Terence Stamp) is summoned to put the nail in the coffin.
Sometimes in love, people make sacrifices or compromises which cause them to “let go” of their person. In order to coerce David into realizing that he must stay on his path, Thompson tells him that if he persists with Elise, he will destroy her dreams. Instead of being a world-renowned choreographer, she will end up “teaching sixth graders how to dance.” Because of the depth of his feelings for her, David makes the conscious decision not to interfere in Elise’s life so that she can be the person she was meant to be even if it breaks his heart in the process.
Thompson reunites Elise with her old choreographer fiancé, Adrian. On the eve of their wedding, (which of course, David finds out this is happening from his friend and campaign manager, Charlie Traynor (Michael Kelly)), Norris sets out to find Harry to help him “rewrite” their ending. Much like Patrick Swayze learning how to manipulate the physical world around him in Ghost (1990), Harry teaches David how to open doorways and bend space and time so that he can reclaim his beloved.
When all seems lost and the pair are confronted by Thompson and the adjustors, at the last minute like a Governor’s reprieve at an execution, Harry appears with orders from the “Chairman” stating that Elise and David are meant to be together and that no one will be able to drive them apart ever again. This time, when Harry glances at his scheduling book, the couple’s paths are in sync and joined.
Actually, for those involved in a twin flame relationship while in the beginning it may seem as if it were written in the stars, in some cases you won’t end up together. One moment, this person is a part of your universe and the next thing you know, they disappear and all you are left with is the memories that you have of them. It’s agonizing but necessary.
Unlike the ending to the Adjustment Bureau, just because you found your twin flame doesn’t mean everything will work out. In life, people come and go. Those that have the biggest impact may end up leaving us because they have served their purpose. Believe me, it is the worst pain that you will ever experience but, in your heart, you know that you will meet them again…