Being John Malkovich (1999) ***1/2


Being John Malkovich is one of those indie movies that mainstream stars do to indulge themselves. You wouldn’t see an ugly crazy haired Cameron Diaz any other way. But the only way such movies work is if they rely on a storyline that is as crazy as Diaz’s hair. And this is the reason Being John Malkovich works without making the audience feel bored even for a minute.

The movie tells the tale of a majorly dysfunctional family of Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) an unsuccessful, unemployed puppeteer and his pet-obsessed wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz). The fact these two people are epitome of the weak and lost section of the society is something thrown into your face from the very start. You never expect things to look up for them ever. Things change when Craig takes up a job at LesterCorp, where he encounters Maxine (Catherine Keener). Craig’s obsessive and almost pathetic attraction towards Maxine is obvious from the very start and even though he treats him as a love stuck pet dog he remains relentlessly loyal to her. In a freak accident Craig chances upon a door which leads him into the mind of John Malkovich for 15 minutes after which he is thrown out on the side of a freeway. Maxine looks at this as an opportunity to make money which Craig readily agrees with. But Lotte after experiencing being inside John for a brief time realizes that she is a transsexual and also in love with Maxine. Everything after that is a complete over the top yet so well done that you are glued to the screen till the very last minute. John Malkovich, in one of the most dramatic performances of his life, plays a fictionalized version of himself. But his role includes playing himself and also everyone else who gets into his brain. For a majority of the movie he actually plays Craig.



The movie, which has become a cult since its release in 1999 is a great piece which tells you what good story telling is all about. The fantastic plot by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze which questions everything from relationships, the peculiarity of human kind and mind-body relationship is the backbone of the movie. And add to that the edgy performances by John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener and John Malkovich and you have extremely entertaining yet intelligent piece of work. Catch this movie!

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