Friday, August 12, 2005

review - Broken Flowers


Broken Flowers is the latest film from director Jim Jarmusch.

Don (Bill Murray) is a seemingly retired person, who made a fortune in the computer business. One day, he receives a letter with no return address or signature, claiming that he fathered a child with the writer and that the child, almost 19 years old, is now one his way to find his unknown father. With the help of his would-be detective novelist neighbour (Jeffrey Wright, someone we should see more of in film), Don embarks on a trip to unexpectedly drop by a few former girlfriends, to try to figure out who sent the letter and who his child is.

There are too many quiet, contemplative moments that worked in Lost In Translation , that don't quite work here. It's true that sometimes less is more, and that much can be communicated without relying on a lot of dialogue. But after a while, the numerous quiet moments made the film seem tedious. There are also parts that are meant to titillate, always involving females, but they don't really add to the story in any germane way, with the exception of playing on men's interest in attractive women. Was this some type of social commentary on the director's part? Probably.

The real estate agent former flame (Frances Conroy)looked embarassed and the dinner scene was painful to watch. However, it was also realistic. We've all been in situations with that type of tension. Jarmusch also tried to juxtapose the dry real estate agent and her bourgeois lifestyle with the hippie that she used to be when Don knew her. The change is apparent without having it trumpeted. The animal communicator on one hand seemed loopy and self-imporatnt, but on the other hand, stand-offish. Real people are like that: more complex than mere stereotypes. The redneck former girlfriend (Tilda Swinton)and her reasons for reacting to him upon his surprise visit, didn't develop any intrigue and didn't contribute to the story in a positive way.

Broken Flowers is not predictable, and that is one of its strong suits. It's slow moving pace and ending may turn off mainstream audiences, however. Those with different tastes may find this to be one of the best films of the year. I can respect this film for trying to be different, but I don't think I would see it again or recommend it to everyone. Winner of the Grand Prix prize at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

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