Broken Flowers [DVD]
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Bill Murray stars in this poised and off-beat comedy drama from writer-director Jim Jarmusch. Don Johnson (Murray) has always avoided committment, but after he splits up from his latest girlfriend, Sherry (Julie Delpy), he receives an anonymous letter claiming he has a son who is trying to look for him. Don decides to analyse his past relationships with women instead of immediately moving on to the next one, a process that takes him on a cross-country search for his old girlfriends and the one who might have some idea about the mystery of his son. Tilda Swinton and Sharon Stone also star in cameo roles.
Don Johnston is an empty man. Hes not short of money, thanks to his considerable success with computers, but he is short of emotion, and very much alone. Yet as the latest woman in his life exits stage left, he receives a mysterious note. In it, he learns of a son he never knew he had, with no clues whatsoever to his identity. And so begins Broken Flowers.
Primarily a road movie, it follows Johnston as he tracks back over his past romances and flings, in an attempt to find out who mothered his child, and ultimately, to meet his son. Its not a task hes too keen on, and one primarily undertaken at the urging of his next door neighbour. Yet it does make for a compelling film, anchored by yet another superb performance from Bill Murray, as Johnston.
The equal of his work in Lost In Translation, hes very much the heart of this slow, diligent movie, that doesnt answer the majority of the questions it poses, yet proves to be something well worth seeking out. And hes well supported too, not least by Sharon Stone, who turns in lively, yet measured, work as one of Johnstons exes.
Still, Broken Flowers is clearly not a movie for everybody, with its relaxed pace and willingness to not worry about ticking every box unlikely to earn it truly mass appeal. But it is a little gem in its own right, and a strong addition to an already weight back catalogue for indie moviemaker Jim Jarmusch. Its worth it alone for Murray, yet Broken Flowers is a movie with plenty else going for it too. Perhaps you might like to give it a try ?--Simon Brew
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If you might be bothered by a lack of the usual sort of resolution to what is the main drift of the storyline is, then you might finish this film unsatisfied. But, it is that lack of resolution that does rather emphasise that very subtle-life-humour to do with signs. It is not particularly uplifting and definitely not 'heartwarming', but nor is it in most cases likely to leave you with feelings of their opposites, as long as you aren't suffering some frustrations of your own, perhaps, along the lines of that subtle-life-humour of the type mentioned or from maybe or maybe not having a child you did not know about.
At first Don's reaction is not to react. As usual he's willing to sit back and do nothing. But he hasn't allowed for his neighbour and closest friend (and he doesn't have many!) Winston (Jeffrey Wright). Being something of an amateur detective Winston is far more intrigued and excited than Don is by this `mystery' and pushes him to investigate it. Don has no enthusiasm for delving into his past love lives but despite his reluctance he sets off on a journey across the country to call on four `old flames'. These out of the blue visits to each of these very individual and different women bring new surprises for Don as he awkwardly finds himself facing both his past and his present. And it's an absolute delight to follow his progress and watch his discoveries...
The film may have an apparently simple story but thanks to the astute direction of director/writer Jim Jarmusch it's full of depth and interest. It has a wonderfully pleasing feel but is also very touching. Seeing the women who were once big parts of his life has an unexpected impact on the previously jaded Don. As the story unfolds he finds himself awakening and at last becoming in touch with feelings that he either didn't know were there or he'd buried deep. There are lots of offbeat and amusing moments and plenty of tender and poignant ones too. I wont give any more away because the beauty of this film is in watching events take place and enjoying each unexpected turn. Don't expect anything fast paced - it's a story that would be ruined if rushed. Its measured pace allows its subtlety and mood to provide so much charm, warmth and sadness too. Murray excels as the cynical empty loner who goes on a voyage against his wishes and finds out so much about himself and others. Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, and Tilda Swinton as the four former girlfriends all add differing and fascinating cameos.
So many people have criticised the film for lack of pace or action. What's wrong with allowing a tale to develop and letting its pace give us time to enjoy and learn about the characters and motives? A very rewarding film and a thumbs up from me.
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