I previously argued against the notion of a film being “revelatory,” especially if it’s touted as being as such. At that point it’s simply a matter of it being manipulation and whether or not the audience is affected accordingly. But hey, even I’m not made of stone (I have a soft spot for raccoons, after all.) Sometimes a movie manages to hit me on an emotional level (but it wasn’t a life-altering experience, so not “revelatory” but it did put some things into perspective for me so … “illuminating?”)
I’m not particularly fond of writer Charlie Kaufman. The first movie of his I was aware of, Being John Malkovich, had great word of mouth consisting almost solely of “it’s so weird so it’s brilliant.” This is a common misconception among people who just don’t know any better; weird/unusual/unique is not synonymous with good (see also: the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.) Oftentimes, it’s basically just the work of an artist too lazy to attempt any semblance of cohesion who then tries to hide their lack of effort under pseudo-intellectual excuses. When I finally saw the movie it didn’t fail to confirm my suspicions about it. It was certainly weird, but it was by no means good.
Nonetheless, I ended up seeing Adaptation a few years later when it was available on video. This movie is particularly obnoxious, because it’s an adaptation (get it!) of an actual book that’s about the writer’s (Charlie Kaufman) trouble adapting the book into a screenplay. Author narcissism is an ugly thing. Still, once you get past that it works as a commentary on the film making process (writing in particular, and how cheap tricks are employed to manipulate the audience.) Sadly, one of these cheap tricks managed to speak to me.
It’s a scene where the twin Kaufman brothers (both of the them fictional, one much more so than the other,) played by Nicolas Cage (managing to not Cage things up this time around,) are hiding from an assailant. One of them admits to the other how he’s always kind of admired him, who has seemed to live life more fully because of his “obliviousness” to life; he mentions an example from their youth where he admitted to a girl his affection for her, and didn’t care that she then rebuked him. The brother then responds that her rejection didn’t matter because he had loved her, and her not loving him back didn’t change that one bit (otherwise it wouldn’t have been love.) I … liked that! Sure, I’m … me … and most people don’t seem to like me. But there are people who I’ve cared for and maybe that should be enough.
I suppose you would have to be a loser for that dialogue to matter to you.