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Human Nature

Entry updated 19 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (2001). Fineline Pictures and Studiocanal present a Good Machine production in association with Beverly Detroit Studios and Partizan. Directed by Michel Gondry. Written by Charlie Kaufman. Cast includes Patricia Arquette, Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto and Tim Robbins. 96 minutes. Colour.

A hypertrichotic nature writer (Arquette) and a wild man raised as an ape (Ifans) become enmeshed in a love quadrangle with a prissy scientist (Robbins) and his manipulative faux-French lab assistant (Otto), as the characters' entangled aspirations to tame the animal in each of them prove mordantly deluded.

After an earlier version was abandoned by Steven Soderbergh in 1996, this early Kaufman spec script was picked up by Gondry while he was developing what would become Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Despite the momentum generated by Being John Malkovich (2000), the film disappointed on release, its astringent sixties-flavoured comedy failing to connect with audiences, and it remains an unjustly underloved work in its makers' canon, notable for its satirical engagement with an idea of Anthropology as an experimental science, as well as for Gondry's characteristically inventive directorial coups and a strong cast playing outside normally habitable comfort zones. [NL]


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