Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a failing street puppeteer married to pet shop owner Lotte (Cameron Diaz). Needing money, he takes a job as a filing clerk with a company on the 7½th floor (don’t ask) of an office block where he accidentally discovers a portal into John Malkovich’s brain where you stay for 15 minutes before being spat out on the New Jersey Turnpike.
He and co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener), after whom he also lusts, set up a business selling the chance to be John Malkovich. But matters get complicated when Lotte and Maxine meet and fall in love – Maxine seduces Malkovich while Lotte’s inside him (and he’s in Maxine) but a jealous Craig manages to take control of Malkovich permanently, marrying Maxine, now pregnant. But Lotte stumbles across the truth behind the portal’s real purpose when she visits Craig’s boss, the ageing Dr Lester (Orson Bean).
A sheer delight from start to finish, completely bizarre yet strangely logical, with not a plot wrinkle in sight, Jonze’s Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning first feature is completed with rounded performances from the four leads, Diaz almost unrecognisably frowsy and Malkovich playing a version of himself the public think they know, slightly distant, quiet, dry witted. Cusack convincingly goes from unworldly to greedy for success, and Keener gets her teeth into the role of a love-hungry, lover-devouring beauty. A totally original film, to rank alongside likes of The Usual Suspects, Memento and Donnie Darko.
USA | 113 minutes | 1999
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
John Cusack as Craig Schwartz
Cameron Diaz as Lotte Schwartz
Catherine Keener as Maxine Lund
John Malkovich as John Horatio Malkovich
Orson Bean as Dr. Lester
Charlie Sheen as Charlie
Sean Penn as Himself (uncredited)
W. Earl Brown as First J.M. Inc. Customer
Willie Garson as Guy in Restaurant
Neil Ross as Featured Character Voice (voice)
Gregory Sporleder as Drunk at Bar
K. K. Dodds as Wendy
Mary Kay Place as Floris
Ned Bellamy as Derek Mantini
Carlos Jacott as Larry the Agent
Byrne Piven as Captain Mertin
Octavia Spencer as Woman in Elevator
Eric Weinstein as Father at Puppet Show
Madison Lanc as Daughter at Puppet Show
Judith Wetzell as Tiny Woman
Kevin Carroll as Cab Driver
Reginald C. Hayes as Don
Gerald Emerick as Sad Man in Line
Bill M. Ryusaki as Mr. Hiroshi
Richard Fancy as Johnson Heyward
Patti Tippo as Malkovich’s Mother
Daniel Hansen as Boy Malkovich
Mariah O’Brien as Girl Creeped Out by Malkovich
Kelly Teacher as Emily
Jacqueline Benoît as Lester’s Friend
William Buck as Lester’s Friend
Christine D. Coleman as Lester’s Friend
Jeanne Diehl as Lester’s Friend
Audrey Gelfund as Lester’s Friend
Yetta Ginsburg as Lester’s Friend
Sylvester Jenkins as Lester’s Friend
Roy C. Johnson as Lester’s Friend
Eddie J. Low as Lester’s Friend
Ralph W. Spaulding as Lester’s Friend
David Wyler as Lester’s Friend
Flori Wyler as Lester’s Friend
Kevin Lee as Ballet Dancer
Marlowe Bassett as Ballet Dancer
Jennifer Canzoneri as Ballet Dancer
Kristie Cordle as Ballet Dancer
Denise Dabrowski as Ballet Dancer
Kristin Condon as Ballet Dancer
Charlene Grimsley as Ballet Dancer
Christine Krejer as Ballet Dancer
Erica Long as Ballet Dancer
Yvonne Montelius as Ballet Dancer
Jessica Neuberger as Ballet Dancer
Sara Rifkin as Ballet Dancer
Elizabeth Rivera as Ballet Dancer
Chelsa Sjostrom as Ballet Dancer
Pamela Hayden as Featured Character Voice (voice)
Jayne Hess as Featured Character Voice (voice)
Michelle Madden as Featured Character Voice (voice)
Greg O’Neill as Featured Character Voice (voice)
Bill Wittman as Featured Character Voice (voice)
David Fincher as Christopher Bing (uncredited)
Brad Pitt as Himself (uncredited)
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