Discussing postmodernism is never a simple task. Analyzing postmodern film proves difficult as well, for it seems that in order to truly explain the postmodern elements of a film, the writing tends to take on postmodern components as well; that is to say, the form of the writing begins to echo the content of the film. Perhaps Lemert explains the quirky, free form nature of postmodernism best: "[postmodernism] is a surprising, sometimes humorous, and always disconcerting mix of present, past, and future" (Lemert, 452).
This quotation seems especially relevant when considering Adaptation, a film which deftly mixes the present with not only the past and future, but also with the imaginary, which often takes the viewer by surprise, reminding them that "the world is no longer one - or even unifiable" (ibid., 459). There are several worlds here, often overlapping or on the verge of doing so: the world that Charlie Kaufman occupies physically and his internal world which is revealed through voice over; Susan Orlean's world as a writer/interviewer, as she is portrayed in her book, and as Charlie discovers her; John Laroche's world as an orchid thief, as portrayed in Orlean's book, and as Charlie discovers him; and glimpses of the childhood worlds of both Orlean and Laroche. The viewer also gets flashes of the world regardless of Charlie, Orlean, or Laroche, flashes that show the history of the planet and of mankind.
Not only do we get the sense that the world is not one, but we also get the sense that each person is not even one, most clearly demonstrated by the presence of Donald, Charlie Kaufman's identical twin brother in the film. Charlie, the writer of the film, not only writes himself into Adaptation, but he writes an imaginary twin brother into the film as well. Donald serves as a sort of foil to Charlie; while Charlie is feeling terribly anxious and insecure with himself and troubled about the film script he's attempting to write, Donald emulates ease and confidence and gleefully begins to work on a script titled "The Three" (Adaptation). It is no coincidence, then, that Donald's film is about a man with multiple personalities, a man who is not only a serial killer, but also a cop looking for the killer, and the soon-to-be next victim of the killer.
His script is merely an altered version of what Charlie has already done by putting a nonexistent twin in his film; whereas Charlie fragments himself into two distinct and often opposing personalities, Donald introduces three distinct personalities only to reveal that all three are actually one. It seems evident that both Charlie and Donald have developed a very postmodern take on the individual, a "heightened sense of self in relation to itself" ("A Postmodern Primer," 1). Charlie sees himself as having more than one personality, the two often in emotional conflict with each other. Donald sees the possibility of one person having several selves, the three in physical and/or emotional conflict with each other.
This is not, of course, the only instance in which an increased awareness of self is demonstrated. The film begins with a voice over of Charlie proclaiming, "I am old. I am fat. I am bald. My toenails have turned strange. I am repulsive. How repulsive? I don't know, for I suffer from a condition called Body Dysmorphic disorder" (Adaptation). The intricacies of the mind at work here are fascinating; first Charlie tells us that he is all these specific things right down to the disorder he suffers from, but his acknowledgment of the disorder at once causes the viewer to question the validity of the previous statements.
We realize, then, the slippery nature of truth, something which postmodernism often calls into question, only to conclude that "truth. . . remains elusive, relativistic, partial, and always incomplete; it cannot be learned in totality" ("A Postmodern Primer," 1). Even when we believe we have encountered the truth, changes in perception or events that follow often distort the believability of that truth, make us question if truth exists.- (Rachel Gray - http://voices.yahoo.com/postmodernism-film-adaptation-71437.html)
Rachel Gray's analysis of Adaptation discusses many aspects of postmodernism and how they are evident in the film, and thus in our entertainment culture. For me, Adaptation explores the experience of the individual and plays with how a story can be told; It's un-linear narrative breaks the rules of traditional story telling.