John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich, Orson Bean
Director: Spike Jonze
“A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of movie star John Malkovich.” (IMDb)
»Currently streaming on Netflix«
What to Expect
A love story
Why You Should Watch It
Kaufman has written some of the most wacky and original screenplays out there, and Being John Malkovich is no different. The three-time Oscar-nominated film examines the varying effects of what it’s like to live as someone else, with puppetry, whirlwind romance, and plenty of humor thrown in. It’s enjoyably unique.
Must See! (A)
This whole movie is wonderfully outrageous: the half floor that forces people to awkwardly bend over, portals into people’s heads that shoot you out next to the New Jersey Turnpike, Charlie Sheen, some weird immortality cult (again with the immortality cults). It’s silly without wearing down your patience.
One clever aspect of the portal was how it affected each of the main characters in completely different ways. Craig (Cusack) first marveled at the philosophical and metaphysical implications before becoming obsessed with living as another person, Maxine (Keener) saw a moneymaker, and Lotte (Diaz) had an epiphany about her sexuality—at first adamantly proclaiming she was transsexual, but seeing her years later still presenting as female, it may have only been a sudden realization of how attracted she was to women.
Seemed a little messed up that Craig was trapped inside the mind of Maxine and Lotte’s child, but also a fitting moral lesson against committing identity theft…or, I don’t know, sacrificing the reputation of someone else to better yourself? Being selfish? Using other people as vessels to live forever?
Speaking of using people as vessels…there is a fan theory spawned in some corner of the internet that connects Being John Malkovich with 2017’s Get Out [GET OUT SPOILERS AHEAD]. In the latter movie, an interracial couple goes to visit the white girlfriend’s parents, who turn out to be part of a racist cult that are able to transfer their minds into younger people of color (and thus live longer). Keener, who plays Maxine in Malkovich, is the girlfriend’s mother, Missy, in Get Out who famously hypnotizes Daniel Kaluuya’s character into submission. This similarity of themes is what led people to postulate that Maxine is Missy, and her daughter Rose is the baby she made with Malkovich, 20 years later. Maxine and Lotte kept researching for new ways to transplant consciousness, and Missy’s husband could really be Lotte getting to live authentically as a man (as she said she wanted to in Malkovich). Writer and director Jordan Peele admits that he did not make Get Out with these exact intentions in mind, but happily confirms the theory.