Cleverly intertwining story/plot keep you interested, especially the unexpected portions of (graphic) violence and terror. Sex, drugs and simultaneous refusal to accept responsibility for one's own actions eventually turn to repulsion. You lose empathy for the lead characters, who are hopelessly lost on a path of self-destruction. The innocense of beautiful orchids (the focal point of the story) is quickly put aside by the fast-paced story with its surprise shockers.
THIS won all of the Oscar Nomination? Great acting, yes. Excellent script, ok. Enertainment? No way! This was a one-time-view for me, and I recomment this film only to die hard fans of the actors, presuming they have a strong stomach for extreme violence. The stuff that nightmares are made of!**
An abrupt change occurs in the final act of the movie when (here's my interpretation) Charlie caves in and decides to resolve the movie in a "hollywood-big-action-suspense-thriller-by-the-numbers" way. I won't give away the details, but the real hero of "The Orchid Thief", the author of that book, the screenwriter and his fictional twin brother all collide in a weird swampy film noire ending that isn't funny "ha-ha", but funny in an "isn't it ridiculous when Hollywood makes films that have to conform to formulas?" kind of way.
You're welcome to your own interpretation, but I liked it. Don't expect to get deep into these characters, because by the end you hardly know "who's who" - but as I said up at the top: this is one of the two most original film's I know of.