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Being John Malkovich

Ever want to be someone else? Now you can. 

Year: 1999 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Spike Jonze 
Starring: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich  
An image from Being John Malkovich

Every once in a while you watch a film so singularly inventive that you might wonder why everything else appears quite so ordinary. Being John Malkovich is one such film. Indeed, it’s nothing short of a miracle that this screenplay was ever green-lit by a major studio — much less directed, acted, and released to financial and critical success. (Thank the gargantuan nepotistic pull of Francis Ford Coppola for that one.) It goes like this: one day, at work, failing puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) stumbles upon a portal into the mind of John Malkovich (himself), granting him fifteen minutes to view the world through the actor’s eyes. Schwartz seeks to profit off this discovery alongside a co-worker whom he continually lusts after (Catherine Keener), all while his wife (Cameron Diaz, though you’d need a second look to believe it) and Malkovich himself get tangled in the repercussions. How the film proceeds I shall leave a mystery, but rest assured that it remains unpredictable to the very last scene; what begins as a gentle corporate satire accumulates a vast web of themes relating to existentialism, sexual identity, and fame, all deftly caught under one stroke of the same, surrealist-comedy brush. It’s one of the finest scripts to ever pass through the Hollywood system, and indeed one of its finest films. “Consciousness is a terrible curse.”

Chris Mantafounis

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Screenings of this film:

2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2022/2023 Summer Term (35mm)