It’s the political background that takes precedence in The Adjustment Bureau to such an extent that it may provide the key to the film’s rather temporal cosmology. For a story that flirts with suggestions of the divine, angels, free will, and determinism, the real-world referents that the film connects with its content are something much more akin to “big brother,” Orwell stuff, and general paranoia of political fascism. Is this a misreading? Are we violently applying the film’s glossy artifice, a narrative revolving around a pretty boy’s quick rise up the political ladder, as both the source and terminus of the film’s overall meaning? Momentarily sidestepping the popular contemporary suggestions that there is no such thing as a misreading, three chief factors lend support to this hypothesis (at least, three factors immediately evident upon a single viewing of the film). First, certain cameos toward the film’s beginning, including one by former Secretary of State Madelaine Albright and the Rev. Jesse Jackson (to say nothing of two separate appearances by political satirist Jon Stewart), ground the film’s fiction in a concrete reality. Second, the narrative revolves around politics: a politician trying to ascend to the highest rank in the land, a rank deemed by the diegesis itself, it seems, as the highest possible good. The sheer absurdity of such a notion that victory in a presidential election could be so earthshaking is so naïve that the film must be about politics and could not ultimately be about something more metaphysical (viz., free will & determinism, the philosophical concepts that the film touts without doing adequate justice to them). That is to say, only a political mindset could be so myopic as to see the US presidency as the all-in-all. Third, characters in the film – particularly those from the “other” world – have all the signs of Orwellian political voyeurs. The “angels” look something like covert operatives, CIA agents, or the Secret Service. These figures are characterized by all things sinister. The one loose cannon, rogue, AWOL agent is exactly the same character as that played by Jeffrey Wright in the recent James Bond film Quantum of Solace. (In classic Hollywood fashion, each character in each film is black. Such a token offering to give such a small role but one of narrative significance to a black actor.) In The Adjustment Bureau, this character is an anti-Satan. He’s a fallen angel, but that’s precisely what makes him good. However much of a cosmic sadist many may accuse the Almighty of being, all indications point to the powers-that-be in The Adjustment Bureau as paralleling those earthly powers that typically try to wield too much control over the everyman. What this film does to try to throw the viewer off of this fairly conventional path is to hurl big concepts like free will and determinism, as well as to symbolize a political dilemma (however urgent it may be) via theophany.