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Hired to write an adaptation of Susan Orlean’s acclaimed The Orchid Thief, a nonfiction investigation of the rarefied world of horticultural obsession, Charlie Kaufman found himself stymied by the author’s graceful but elliptical prose. Desperate, he made himself the script’s main character (played by Nicolas Cage), chronicling his vain struggle to do justice to Orlean’s vision. What makes Adaptation. more than just a clever stunt are exceptional lead performances and the way that the paralyzing self-doubt each of the main characters experiences dovetails to form a potent, funny-sad disquisition on the value of compromise.
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