When Charlie Kaufman ran into difficulties adapting journalist Susan Orlean's biography of maverick botanist John Laroche, he had a brain-cough. An inspired brain-cough, at that: he'd rework his troubles as a movie in which he appears as the main character (played by Nicolas Cage), trying to work on the very same adaptation. With the help-cum-hindrance of his crass and charismatic twin brother Donald (Cage again)...

It's almost too smart-arsey - (not to mention navel-gazey) - for its own good but, thanks to the controlled direction of Spike Jonze (who collaborated with Kaufman on Being John Malkovich), it works. Adaptation is part Hollywood satire, part sibling-relationship drama, part romantic tragedy and part... Well, that would be telling, wouldn't it? Plus, it benefits hugely from a clutch of superlative performances, most notably from Cage as the flaccid, morose Charlie.

The cheeky climax may leave you out in the cold, but it makes perfect nonsense. And, most importantly, there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way.

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