Being John Malkovich is a 1999 film directed by Spike Jonze, and written by Charlie Kaufman. It stars John Cusack and Catherine Keener. This is a very strange film people who discover a portal into famous actor John Malkovich’s mind. This is one of Charlie Kaufman’s best films, and I really liked it.
Being John Malkovich follows Craig Schwartz, a complete loser in life with a passion for being a puppeteer, who lives with his girlfriend who’s a veterinarian. After taking a strange job on floor 7 1/2 of an office building, he meets his femme fatale coworker Maxine. Soon after, he finds a door in the building that lets anyone experience the life of John Malkovich in real time. Craig and Maxine then go on to found a business letting people experience being John Malkovich. Things get complicated however, when both Craig’s wife, John Malkovich itself, and a cult of people who inhabit other bodies all get involved.
Being John Malkovich is excellent. It’s hilarious, it’s thoughtful, and it touches on some unique themes, that are similarly touched on in other Charlie Kaufman films. The dynamic and clear power difference between Maxine and Craig is quite funny at times, with Maxine clearly manipulating Craig while he’s simply infatuated with her. Additionally, this movie ponders what it is that keeps us from our dreams, and how we tend to only love one aspect of a person, instead of loving them as a whole. Craig is an excellent puppeteer, however his skill is only recognized when he’s inhabiting Malkovich. Similarly, Maxine falls in love with John Malkovich, but only if Craig’s wife is inhabiting him at the moment. There’s a lot to analyze in this film and I found it really interesting to try and decipher some of the themes and messages found within.
One thing that felt rather needless to me was the introduction of the “mind transporting cult” that ends up living in Malkovich at the end of the film. They really don’t seem to serve a purpose, and although funny at times, made the movie a lot more confusing, at least to me.
Overall, Being John Malkovich is a weird film that deserves your attention. Charlie Kaufman should be more famous, and this movie is undoubtedly one of his best.