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  • Dir. Spike Jonze
  • USA
  • 1999
  • 113 min.
  • R
  • DCP
  • Assistive Listening
  • Hearing Loop

Part of 1999

Few debuts have hit Hollywood with the impact of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman — who, with BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, shook things up on an unimaginable scale (think Avary and Tarantino’s chronology in PULP FICTION, or Soderbergh’s delineation of timespace through color grading in TRAFFIC just one year after this). Playful and perverse, this film demands time be spent to describe it when casually asked by passersby and it makes the hook of selling it to potential viewers part of the act of even a casual reference. That a frustrated puppeteer finds an unexpected doorway that allows one to spend time in the mind of the iconic actor John Malkovich seems simultaneously captivating but also so intimate and personal that it triggers the act of doubt in anyone just trying to recount it. Multiplex audiences, Moms and Dads, and people just curious about possibilities found themselves swept away into something unexpected and upsetting, a grimy glory of something more than what we perceive as reality.

What could have developed into a one-gag film becomes a gender-bending extravaganza with a crazy network of love triangles... The real magic of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH is that it never fails to surprise.” —Kaleem Aftab, The List

“Ribald Kafkaesque romp BEING JOHN MALKOVICH contemplates the nature of sexual identity and celebrity with a surrealist shtick that owes plenty to Buñuel and Svankmajer.” —Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

“Devilishly inventive and so far out there it's almost off the scale.” —David Rooney, Variety