Adaptation Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper Director: Spike Jonze 'Nobody's ever done a movie about flowers before,' Nicolas Cage's character says in Adaptation. It's true - when the film was released in 2002, mystifying audiences in the process, nobody had. And it's hard to say if anyone still has. Confused? Then you haven't seen Spike Jonze's thoroughly original meta-masterpiece, a film based in equal parts on writer Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's struggles to adapt the book. Weaving everything from life and love to dinosaurs and Darwin, with the lonely process of writing thrown in for good measure, Adaptation is a hilarious, heartbreaking masterpiece. For the first two-thirds of the film, we follow Kaufman (Cage, right), hot off the success of his ingenious door-to-the-brain script Being John Malkovich. Faced with adapting Orlean's book as his follow-up, we trace his struggles both in writing the script and in everyday life: his unluckiness in love, his endless frustrations and more than anything, his relationship with his positive, outgoing twin Donald (also played by Cage). As he slowly grinds away at the adaptation, the movie sporadically switches to Orlean's tale, following the always reliable Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper as they search for the elusive, endangered ghost orchid. Each scene that Kaufman transfers from paper to word processor is shown to us in clear succession, and as the pages of the book run out, the story reaches its inevitable conclusion. But we soon enter the final act, a turning point where reality (if you can call it that) ends and silver-screen fantasy beings. Audiences are divided over the meaning and purpose of the last 20 minutes: is it a response to Hollywood's need for a big, trashy climax? A statement about the common man's literary habits? Or just pure laziness on Kaufman's part? The latter is likely - it's been said that Kaufman truly struggled with Orlean's book - but the writer has such a brilliantly bizarre mind that 20 weak Kaufman pages are worth any number coming out of Hollywood. In that sense, the film is its three principals' finest hours, mostly due to each serving double duty. Jonze directs both stories in fine form: Orlean's done in classic Oscar-baiting style; a heavy dose of surrealist humour and emotional resonance given to Kaufman's. Cage turns in not one, but two award-worthy performances: he fills Charlie with insecurities and self-loathing, a man constantly looking inward, while the fake Donald is the ideal extrovert. But it's Kaufman's script that stands above the rest, an inventive, imaginative, unpredictable narrative that seamlessly balances Orlean's and his own equally heartbreaking journeys, finding more than coincidence in its connections and always staying one step away from audience expectations. We've hardly mentioned the book itself, the double- or triple-meaning of the title - and we're not going to, because writing about a movie about writing a script about a book isn't easy.