Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a stalker in a taurus

Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers is less layered than Dead Man, less adventurous than Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and not as unpredictable as Coffee and Cigarettes. But it's still a nice, calm little story with a great cast (Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Francis Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy), a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack and product placement (MSN, MapQuest, Ford, Budget): Don Johnston, a ladies man in his youth has done well in computers and lives life listening to music and watching old films. An innocuous pink envelope arrives on the day his current girlfriend is moving out -- the envelope contains a letter from one of his former girlfriends telling him that he has a 19-year old son who may be out looking for his father. The only problem is that the girlfriend does not write her name. Don's neighbour Winston (Wright) convinces him to track the writer of the letter down. What follows is a journey from one interesting encounter to another.

Bill Murray turns in another performance dominated by his ability to convey a lot by appearing to do nothing. Call it expressive nothingness, if you will. Jarmusch raises the stakes with the ladies and only underscores the humour of Murray's performance. He is ably supported by Jeffrey Wright in a performance that is as different from his turn in Syriana as it is from his interpretation of Felix Leiter in Casino Royale. The film offers several mysteries, most of which remain unresolved even as the end credits roll. But it is undeniably a familiar trope -- the road movie -- attacked in a most charmingly unfamiliar way. And I'm sure the fact that Pell James and Chloe Sevigny were also in Zodiac has no bearing on the proceedings. [June 28, 2008]

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