Being John Malkovich (1999) – Movie Review
19th July 2021 Written by Peter Walkden
Craig (John Cusack) is a talented puppeteer, but he fails to make a living off it. He lives with his wife Lotte Schwartz (Cameron Diaz), who works at a pet store and is obsessed with adopting many animals to live within their home. Craig is forced into finding another way to earn money. Because he’s known for his skilled and fast hands, he applies for a job that requires him to sort out files.
Craig is successful at getting an interview, but as he soon discovers, the organisation is quite odd and bizarre. He is asked obvious yet straightforward questions. The organisation’s floor number is oddly located on level 7 and a half, requiring a staff member to pull the elevator alarm to enter the level. But no matter all the odd and bizarre things Craig sees, he’s offered a job and accepts.
As Craig works in the office, he encounters more odd things around the workplace, but the one person who seems normal is Maxine (who he soon wishes to have an affair with even though he is married). But the biggest highlight of the workplace is when John finds a portal hidden behind a filing cabinet. The portal is a gateway that allows anyone to control and overtake the mind of the famous actor, John Malkovich. Craig is now in the position of both confusion and power, having discovered an ultimate dream and finding himself in what appears to be a love triangle.
As you can already tell by the brief plot summary above, Being John Malkovich is a wacky film, and it’s also highly different from anything I’ve ever seen in cinema. The film delivers on the creative level with the plot, fun ideas and new concepts, all of which work well. Throughout the film’s duration, movie lovers will either frown or laugh at the many bizarre elements of this film. Not all jokes will land, nor will all odd elements make sense. I found myself appreciating this film with a secondary watch.
The performances are fantastic and like the plot, fun and wacky. John Cusack and Cameron Diaz deliver characters, unlike anything I’ve seen either one of them perform on screen. Catherine Keener plays her role wonderfully, and audiences will be stumped as to whether they like or hate her as a character. And to top it off, the man himself, John Malkovich, surprisingly enough, is given lots to do here and brings a few memorable moments to the screen.
The film’s pace moves along rather nicely, and the plot is quite enjoyable. However, I’ve always found the film’s third act a bit too heavy. It attempts to explain the mysterious plot details with deeper explanations that feel quite different to everything being led up to.
Overall, love it or hate it, this film delivers a high level of creativity and drama. Unlike anything I’ve seen before, I found it more enjoyable on a second viewing. Performances all around are great, and all of the cast bring something different to the screen. It’s a wacky and bizarre film that I find to be surprisingly enjoyable for the most part.
Being John Malkovich (1999) is Now Available on Blu-ray & DVD!