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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


David Norris (Matt Damon) is an ambitious politician with potential. When he meets the outspoken, beautiful dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) when he is rehearsing a speech in a gents rest room, he is immediately drawn to her. Just as the relationship is on the brink of developing, mysterious men start appearing, seemingly conspiring to keep them apart. Who are these men who all wear hats and who seem to know more about the future than David and Elise?

Review by Louise Keller:
At times intriguing and at other times rather silly, this adaptation of Philip K. Dick's short story offers mystery and romance, yet is too tangible to be mysterious and is not sensual enough to be romantic. And while Matt Damon and Emily Blunt make a compelling and attractive couple, screenwriter George Nolfi's direction lacks the magic, which is perhaps why we never really believe in the alternate universe where serious men wearing hats walk through many doors or that the two central characters cannot live without each other. The concept however, that life is one carefully co-ordinated plan, punctuated by fate, chance and coincidences, has plenty to snatch our attention.

Ambition colours everything for Damon's up and coming New York politician David Norris, who trusts focus groups above all else. Until he meets the beautiful and mysterious Elise Sellas (Blunt) in unexpected circumstances in the men's washroom of the Waldorf. There's an immediate connection and they kiss. (I mention the kiss, because there is no underestimating the power of a kiss.) So far so good. With a large scale concept that requires a considerable leap of faith, what happens next is the big test and the revelation comes as a bit of a jolt. Suddenly the promise of romance is overshadowed by something much larger. Destiny. The plan. The big picture that has been carefully mapped out for us by a higher being called The Chairman. And yes, the Intervention Team (the men wearing hats) are sometimes called angels.

It's easy to get caught up in the reality described, although I must admit to feeling hot and cold in equal measures as the story progresses. Surprisingly there is little chemistry between Damon and Blunt, which in the context of a story that champions love above destiny, works against it. With his keen sense of decency, Damon is the film's greatest asset and it is through his protagonist's journey that much of our satisfaction is gained. If only Nolfi had been able to achieve a smoother transition to the world of the men wearing hats... well, that would have been a different film.
Published first in the Sun-Herald

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(US, 2011)

CAST: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp, John Slattery, Anthony Mackie, Shohreh Aghdishloo, Michael Kelly

DIRECTOR: George Nolfi

SCRIPT: George Nolfi (short story by Philip K. Dick)


EDITOR: Jay Rabinowitz

MUSIC: Thomas Newman


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes



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