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First-Time Watch Review - Being John Malkovich

by Dana Andersen. Published Wed 10 Jun 2020 09:33

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People feel an inexplicable need, to try to explain ‘meta’ films to anyone that hasn’t seen them, and especially with Being John Malkovich, the explanation doesn’t come anywhere near preparing you for the movie. It’s bizarre, ridiculous, and hilarious, though some scenes border between funny, and nightmare inducing.

Following Craig, a down on his luck puppeteer in New York, and his animal loving wife, Lotte, there is nothing normal, or relatable, about any character in this movie, and for some films that would detract from how much you care about them or the plot, but it somehow works for this. When Craig gets a job on the 7th and a half floor, things start to get really weird, as an audience member watching it for the first time, after hearing how ‘incredible’ it is, its easy to wonder if the movie even has a plot.

The first half hour or so of the movie is slow, but not boring. It sets up each character and plot point in a way that makes them stick in your mind, vital for a movie that has a plot with so many twists and turns.

Things soon pick up though when Craig finds a door that, as most people know, allows him, and anyone else who goes through, to become John Malkovich. Perhaps this is even funnier to watch now, because he’s not an actor we see very often, and you have to wonder, when they could have chosen Johnny Depp, or Brad Pitt, or some other huge name, what made them choose John Malkovich?

Whatever it was, it was the best choice for sure. He has a subtle comedic edge, reminiscent of Tommy Wiseau in The Room, but able to act.

If the basic plot of the movie isn’t insane enough, things get even more mind-boggling when Lotte goes through the portal, becoming obsessed with being John, and also falling in love with Maxine. The idea of having someone only love you back when you’re in someone else’s body is interesting, but almost a fleeting thought with everything else that goes on.

Once Craig takes over Malkovich’s body is when we see another reason Malkovich was the best choice for the role. He takes on every tiny mannerism John Cusack bought to the character of Craig, its truly impressive, and makes it so much easier for the audience to understand whats going on, its not something many actors do well.

Malkovich going through the door is one of the most tension filled, whats-going-to-happen moments to have ever existed in cinema, and the final result of him being in a world of Malkovich’s is totally unexpected. This has to be one of the funniest, most unexpected, and just plain bizarre moments in any movie, and its impossible to imagine anyone but John Malkovich pulling it off in such a comedic yet serious way.

There are several plot twists through the movie, and the fact that a bunch of old people kick Craig out of John, in order to live the rest of John Malkovich’s life as John Malkovich, doesn’t even seem that weird by the time it happens, tells you how odd the rest of the movie is.

Lotte being the father of Maxine’s child, because she was in Malkovich when it was conceived, is genuinely uplifting, if you don’t think about how confusing thats going to be for the child that John Malkovich’s body conceived, Craig thought was his, but actually has Lotte as the father.

The final twist of the movie, involving Craig, is the moment that cements the movie as an iconic film everyone should see. It’s that little feeling of pity and horror in the pit of your stomach, after laughing through most of the movie, that makes it really stick with you in an unforgettable way.

Of all the films people say you ‘need’ to watch, this is one of the few thats truly deserving of a watch, and one thats actually fully enjoyable, rather than being ‘important’ or pretentious.


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