Orlean is played by the wonderful Meryl Streep, who brings a strong sense of authority to the character. Orlean's book is about John Laroche, played by Chris Cooper, who is a man obsessed with hunting ghost orchids which is an illegal practice in Florida. However these characters are never stagnate. They constantly shift and contort in personality as Charlie Kauffman, the person and the character, attempt to define them in their work.
The plot of the movie was supposed to be about Laroche. But the movie is about Charlie Kauffman the writer struggling with writers block. He is trying to create the perfect story out of a book about an orchid thief. Where the movie succeeds is how Kauffman manages to manipulate expectations. Kauffman's character has a twin brother, also played by Cage. Donnie Kauffman acts as an outside world. A world only concerned with plot and action and making money. But it is Donnie who is succesful, Donnie who gets the girl, Donnie who finishes and sells his screenplay.
And this is what the movie becomes. It becomes driven by plot and by unrealistic romance and conflict. But it is the preceding hour, of personal conflict and creative frustration, that makes this result appealing. Kauffman creates a complex story of his own inabilities that is both frustrating and rewarding. He's made the movie after all.
I tried not making Adaptation. But revision after revision as my movie about anxiety started making me more anxious the film became a sort of knock off of this unstructured but emotionally appealing movie. I'd encourage people to watch Adaptation, a movie about how Charlie Kauffman doesn't like his own work.