Nicolas Cage received his second Oscar nomination for portraying Charlie, and Donald Kaufman in Adaptation.
The twin brothers are quite the opposite in terms of personality, and ability. Although they look the same and eventually are both screen writers, Charlie is far less confidant of a person, and far more withdrawn. Donald is far more outgoing, easygoing, and just a far more relaxed person. As screenwriters they again differ with Charlie trying his best to be original, whereas Donald is quite content writing a contrived multiple personality serial killer thriller.
Cage of course plays both of the brothers, and easily separates them in his portrayal. Both of his portrayals are entirely their own characters. Cage also finds room to explore two very different types of performances through the film. One that is lead, the other supporting, one that is happy the other sad, one that changes over the time, but the stays basically the same.
Cage as Donald, the supporting brother, is quite entertaining in portraying the sort of naive glee that Donald has in life. Cage is consistently funny in portraying Donald's constant joy that he has at all times, as well as his external happiness that is always quite clear. Cage always finds the right amount of humor in Donald's way whether it is his dumb smile, or his rather crude way at times.
Cage's best scenes as Donald though, are amazingly enough his scenes with Cage as Charlie. Cage has a terrific chemistry with himself. His scenes with himself are extremely fun to watch, and not because of the novelty of Cage playing against himself, but because they have an extremely amusing dynamic between the two with Charlie's depressed manner that is perfectly contrasted by Donald's joyful one.
In the leading role of Charlie Cage is equally effective. He has the perfect depressed manner that is consistent. Cage has the right withdrawn quality at all times as Charlie, which he always shows making Charlie always a little bit awkward around other people. Cage makes it a struggle to really talk to anyone easily, besides his brother anyways. Cage appropriately displays this as a real pain that Charlie suffers from.
Cage turns Charlie into an effective character to follow through in his Adaptation through each of his troubles. Cage is excellent in showing Charlie's constant suffering over his attempts to make something out of the Orchid Thief, and it is appropriately underlined with a certian passion, although a very restrained passion that only comes out on certain breakthroughs of his script.
Charlie actually does indeed go under a change through the film, in which he gains more confidence, and learns a life lesson and all that. Cage is effective in this transition. It is the slowest of transitions, but it is one that is purposefully, a little contrived, but a realistically one as portrayed by Cage nonetheless, giving rather powerful performance in the end.
Cage performance in this film certainly is a unique one because it is one of the few examples of an actor being nominated for a duel role, as well as being the only time an actor was nominated for portraying the screen writer, who is writing the film during the film. Cage takes the odd and make the most of it. Cage with the two brothers together gives a funny, entertaining, as well as interesting, and effective.