You can divide the viewers of the film Adaptation into three groups.

  1. You saw the movie and didn't get the joke. You were just trying to follow/enjoy the story and left the movie thinking "eh."
  2. You saw the movie and got the joke. You thought it was brilliant and a fresh look at a common event.
  3. You got the joke, but thought it was a cop out. Instead of doing a proper adaptation Charlie Kaufman took the easy road and didn't do his job.

I fall into the second category but author Stephanie Zacharek falls into the third. The dude in front of me fell into the first. I just finished reading Stephanie's article at Salon and have started to question my original thoughts. Her claim is that although a screenwriter has a right to make an adaptation his/her own, Kaufman went too far. He made Susan Orlean's book about Charlie Kaufman.

I will concede this point to her. Yes, the movie is a bit self-indulgent and no it is not a faithful or good adaptation of The Orchid Thief. The issue that Zacharek ignores is that the movie was not telling the story of the book; it was telling the story of an adaptation. And yes, everyone knows that writing and especially adaptation is tough, but no one has been able to show us the journey that a writer must endure in order to produce a piece. Kaufman and Jonze do that and as a result the movie is incredibly interesting.

It's no fun when you see an adaptation that makes a mockery of the book. Someone high up realized that The Orchid Thief could not be faithfully adapted (hell, Kaufman was the third to try). So, he/she left it in the hands of Kaufman to do something interesting with the book. If anyone could turn a book about a love affair with flowers in an interesting movie, it would be Kaufman and Jonze. And so the team makes a movie that has the book as the main character. It is not an adaptation. It is the story of adapting.

If you'd like to follow the saga that is Adaptation, head over to the blog regarding:Adaptation.