Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is commissioned to adapt Susan Orleans' (Meryl Streep) meandering non-fiction book, The Orchid Thief, to a screenplay, but he is overcome by his insecurities and can't get started. He asks his sweet but simple, identical twin brother Donald (Nicolas Cage) for help, who suggests he enrols in industry-famous Robert McKee's (Brian Cox) screenwriting workshop. In the meantime, Susan ventures on a journey of self-discovery with the eccentric and troubled subject of her book, orchid lover John Laroche (Chris Cooper).
In this extravagantly imaginative piece of cinema, creatively and socially paralysed screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is trying to adapt a book by The New Yorker writer Susan Orlean called The Orchid Thief. He's having trouble, it's not a book about sex, guns, car chases, it's a book about flowers. Susan Orlean, played by Meryl Streep was intrigued by a news story about a horticulturalist John LaRoche (Chris Cooper), being arrested for stealing plants from a Florida swamp. Her book is about her meeting LaRoche and their search for the mysterious ghost orchid.
Meanwhile Charlie's twin brother Donald – also played by Cage – arrives to scrounge off his brother and he decides screenwriting might suit him too and after attending classes by the screenwriting guru Robert McKee (played with great mischief by Brian Cox) decides on a multiple personality serial killer story. Charlie and Donald are chalk and cheese. This densely layered, smart, bold film is about entymology, biology, creation and creativity, the need for passion, the inevitability of change, evolution, and of course, it's about screenwriting.
It is a very clever reflection of itself. It's funny with fabulous performances, Cage absolutely convinces as the two brothers, Chris Cooper gives the performance of his career as the garrulous, toothless, obsessive LaRoche and Streep is delightful as Orlean. And Cara Seymour is wonderful as Amelia, the girl that Charlie loves. And watch out for director Curtis Hanson playing Orlean's husband. But the magic combination is Kaufman and Jonze whose direction is absolutely exhilarating. They make a splendid cinema team. This is an outstanding film.