The Brothers Bloom begins when Stephen, 13, and Bloom, 10, went through a succession of foster families, getting chucked out one after another for a number of reasons such as "inappropriate behaviour", "sold our furniture", "caused flooding" and "molesting a cat".
Eventually, they learned a trade of sorts - hitting upon the art of the con, originally to get Bloom to talk a girl at his latest school, with Stephen putting together the con as a flow chart in 15 steps, helping themselves ingratiate with people with whatever tale they could spin that was believable. After the initial sequence with their original con, we fast-forward to the present day. MO< At this point, they've spent 25 years leading a string of elaborate cons and Bloom wants his life back - he wants to be himself and to stop pretending to be someone he isn't. He only manages a temporary escape, to Montenegro, but gets dragged back for one final con, posing as antiquities dealers and conning Penelope (Rachel Weisz), a young woman who lives in a mansion which her late parents owned.
There's a lot of very clever moments, such as when they arrange for Bloom to meet Penelope by having him ride his push bike into her sports car, except that she's so ditzy, after she screeches to a halt, she zooms off and ends up crashing down an embankment. While he's fine, she ends up unconscious in a hospital bed, but when she's out and they start chatting, she tells him she fills her time by collecting hobbies. She sees someone else doing something, learns how to do it from books and gets cracking. These include the piano, accordian, karate, skateboarding, juggling with chainsaws... yes, I didn't make that up.
It's difficult to pinpoint the era of this movie, as Penelope's car is clearly a present day vehicle, but when the brothers go to Europe by steamer ship... just who travels that way these days?
The film has a great cast, with Adrien Brody as Bloom, living in his older brother's shadow and also trying to escape from under it; Rachel Weisz plays ditzy well - and this is probably the first time I've watched a film with her in and NOT found her annoying; Mark Ruffalo, as Bloom's brother, Stephen, is always worth a watch and there's an intriguing performance from Rinko Kikuchi as Bang Bang, their rather mental assistant and a rare speaker. Support comes from Robbie Coltrane as a Belgian curator and legend Maximilian Schell as an arch enemy of theirs, Diamong Dog. In a film that's mostly very well written, his is the least fulfilling part as it just all seems rather tacked on.
Overall, It doesn't take a genius to work out that singletons Bloom and Penelope get the hots for each other and that that will knacker making her an effective mark, but that doesn't matter too much as it starts getting a bit too complex for its own good and loses its way, although it does come up with a decent ending.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 anamorphic theatrical ratio, the picture is sharp and detailed with no problems whatsoever. It's sharply filmed and edited and has a brilliant visual style throughout, in terms of how Rian Johnson frames each shot and also when each new location is introduced. For the record, I'm watching on a Panasonic 37" Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
As for the sound, this is in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio, or DTS 5.1 for those, like me, without the full technical dohickey. It's mostly used for dialogue and ambience, with occasional musical interludes.
The extras are as follows:
* Featurette: "In Bloom" (15:35): This contains solely of one-set footage, with text appearing onscreen at times to point out who certain crew members are and what their job entails. You'll enjoy it if you were a huge fan of the film.
* Interview with director Rian Johnson (18:45): Does what it says on the tin, with the interviewer off-camera, her voice coming out of the left speaker, and the director's voice coming from the right.
* Deleted Scenes with director's commentary (32:30): Rian Johnson tells us he recommends watching them with the commentary on, yet turning it off isn't an option anyway. In most cases, he doesn't speak for too often, he just introduces the scene. However, for some he talks almost all of the way through, and since you can't turn him off, this gets very irritating. There are 21 scenes in total and nothing much that I'd put back in, as the film is long enough, but a lot of these things were cut for timing reasons.
* Trailer (2:18): In open-matte 16:9.
Oddly, there's also a 'play all' option for all these extras.
The menu mixes clips of the film with a short piece of the incidental music. There are subtitles in English but the chaptering is lazy with just 12 over the 114-minute running time. There's also trailers, from Optimum - and even an advert - that you can't skip past or pause! This is NOT the age of the rental video and this is VERY annoying! STOP IT!