Freewill, Predestination, and The Adjustment Bureau

There’s a flourishing debate about freewill and determinism going on among moviegoers who have seen The Adjustment Bureau?

Or, at least, the materials I was sent promoting the film made it clear that this was the intention.

Are your friends all buzzing with concern about whether their movements have been programmed, or whether they are free enough to argue with God? If such a conversation is happening, what does that say about the film?

It says this: American movies are so horribly devoid of interesting ideas and questions that when we’re handed something from Theology 101 first-day-of-class-notes, we go bananas, thinking that the film is profound. And hey, elementary-level theology questions are better than nothing.

The thing is, The Adjustment Bureau wears its questions on its sleeves. And its hat. And its pants. It manages to be fun, mostly because Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have some surprising chemistry. But the film practically shoves its questions at us.

I prefer films that suggest, that tease, that leave us with lingering questions. This film’s questions are in such Large Capital Letters that I don’t find myself thinking much about the characters or their astoundingly uninspiring romance. (Politicians who make out with women they’ve just men in the men’s room somehow fail to capture my sympathies.)

But before I end up rewriting my Adjustment Bureau commentary, well… here’s a link to it at Image.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.