Adjuster, The (Canada, 1992)

A movie review by James Berardinelli
The Adjuster starts out with a relatively normal premise, but that's the only thing about this film that can be classified as "normal". Director Atom Egoyan is not a traditional director, and his aim is not to satisfy mainstream audiences. Unfortunately, in this case, there are too many occasions during the course of this movie when situations become too self-consciously "artsy."

The Adjuster is about just what the title suggests -- an insurance adjuster (Elias Koteas). This man goes from client-to-client, examining the wreckage of their lives, being sympathetic, and doing what he can to help them put the pieces back together. Frequently, his efforts go above and beyond the call of duty. If a woman is in need of sexual release, for example, the adjuster is more than willing to provide it.

The movie takes unusual characters and puts them in surreal situations. Everything in The Adjuster is done to extremes. There are moments during the course of the movie when this filmmaking philosophy works, and a scene gels or an image triggers the perfect emotional response. As often, however, the director's atypical methods create confusion for the audience while fracturing the story's flow.

There is little in The Adjuster that is straightforward and viewers are left to guess about the title character's real motives: Is he an emotional parasite, someone desperately trying to help others, or something more sinister? It's an interesting question, but the lack of clues to the answer is frustrating. Character development is spotty and the interaction between the various people who inhabit Egoyan's bizarre world is fundamentally unsatisfying.

The Adjuster is a different sort of film, with some powerful scenes and concepts, but not enough of this film works to make it fully successful. There's a difference between trying to do something profound, and actually achieving that aim, and only those who enjoy genuinely eclectic motion pictures are likely to see Egoyan's efforts here as fruitful.

Adjuster, The (Canada, 1992)

Director: Atom Egoyan
Cast: Elias Koteas, Arsinee Khanjian, Maury Chaykin, David Hemblen
Screenplay: Atom Egoyan
Cinematography: Paul Sarossy
Music: Mychael Danna
U.S. Distributor:
Run Time: 1:42
U.S. Release Date: -
MPAA Rating: "R" (Profanity, Sexual Situations, Nudity)
Genre: DRAMA
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1