Monday, August 29, 2005

Broken Flowers: The Review

Of course the really interesting thing about Broken Flowers is how Bill Murray has turned himself into a French film actor of sorts, a woeful womanizer in this new nouvelle vague oeuvre. But it goes further than that. He's basically changed his whole BRAND as an actor.

I mean, thanks to Lost In Translation and now Broken Flowers, we're seeing a whole new career for this guy. No small feat. He's practically transformed himself into a combination of Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep and Francois Truffaut. WTF?!?

And he's terrific, but boy, oh boy, this is way beyond Groundhog Day. This is his post-post-post-Ghostbusters period. Bill's Blue Period.

Here come's the part where I ruin the movie for you, if you haven't seen it, so --- GO BACK! --- DO NOT ENTER! --- if you haven't seen it.

The Entertainment Weekly review by Lisa Schwarzbaum over at will give you the setup, if you're still reading and have decided not to go see it.
In "Flowers," Murray plays Don Johnston, he of the slippery, almost-celebrity name, a low-affect commitmentphobe with a host of fed-up ex-girlfriends on his romantic resume. As played by Murray with seemingly effortless stillness, Don gives off a hum of masculine self-containment that's equally alluring and exasperating to women, and when first encountered, the determined bachelor has just been dumped by his latest had-it-up-to-here lover (Julie Delpy).

The only ''tell'' that Don isn't perfectly happy with his no-strings lot as a homeowner in AnyJarmuschTown, USA, is the obvious bang he gets out of visiting his neighbor Winston (Jeffrey Wright), a family guy with a passel of kids.

So when he receives an unsigned letter from an old flame informing him that he is the father of a 19-year-old son who may now be searching for his dad, Don consults with Winston, an amateur gumshoe who'd never be confused with Columbo, and takes his friend's advice to travel the country calling on long-ago girlfriends who might fit the description of Anonymous Mom.

That's the setup. The joy is in the journey, as this most reluctant of possible papas makes an all-American road trip around the country, dropping in on ladies who, in their profound differences one gal to the next, reflect different aspects of Don and Bill Murray and the America of quirk and querulousness that Jarmusch has loved so eccentrically, and so independently, since "Stranger Than Paradise."

There's a lot of ambiguity in the movie, and especially at the end, where they leave it unclear as to whether any of the ex-girlfriends is the mother of the son, and for that matter, if there's a son at all.

I like to conclude it was all a devious little plot cooked up by Julie Delpy who's fed up his meaningless womanizing, but willing to give him one more try. She wants to show him in a Dickensian Christmas Carol kinda way, how empty his future will be if he doesn't stop being a womanizer, and instead settle down with one woman -- maybe her -- and have a family. She makes a helluva convincing case, but still it's not clear "Don Johnston" will take her suggestion seriously.

Oh, and one last thing, Jeremy Wright is perfectly fantastic in this movie, but you knew that, right? To be fair, so is just about everyone else.