Does God’s sovereignty mean that God is in charge of every bit of minutia that transpires in the world–including the choices we make?
Does God’s sovereignty mean that God determines certain outcomes that will definitely take place but other things are left up to us?
These questions, the fodder of seminary debates (and of the splitting of Protestant denominations) are put on the table in dramatic fashion in The Adjustment Bureau. Based on the short story, “The Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick, this film starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, came out in 2011, so of course I just heard about it. Moving on…
The premise of the film is that the world is populated by angelic-like figures who help ensure that certain things do and do not happen. Not everything. Just some things.
In this case, David Norris (Matt Damon) and Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) were supposed to meet, but only once. and not fall in love. And not be together.
Of course, the film proceeds with them striving to overcome their fate.
Like so much good fantasy, Adjustment Bureau holds up a mirror alternately to the world so many of us say exists, who we are, and the problematic questions that we need to confront if “everything happens for a reason.”
I highly recommend this film for a night of stimulating conversation around ideas that are fairly prevalent in pop culture, but that might have some ramifications we aren’t all that ready to accept.
My overall judgment is that the film was very good–right up to the last three minutes. It ends with the same sort of deflating exhale that happens when a joke is ruined by having to be explained. Rather than leaving the audience to answer the questions, to tease out the significance, it is all spelled out by one of the angel figures (Harry Mitchell, played by Anthony Mackie).
Though this detracts from the film, it puts a few more possibilities on the table, and should help foster conversation. So, grab a few friends, watch together, and dredge up the ages old debate about determinism and free will. If, that is, it’s what you’ve been fated to do…