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 departed the Patheos network in order to escape click-bait advertisements that were offending him and his readers. He will re-launch Looking Closer at lookingcloser.org soon. He is the author of The Auralia Thread, a four-volume fantasy series that begins with Auralia's Colors, and a memoir of "dangerous moviegoing" called Through a Screen Darkly. He teaches creative writing and film studies; speaks internationally about art and faith; served as Writer-in-Residence at Covenant College; and is employed by Seattle Pacific University as a project manager, copyeditor, and writer.


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