Broken Flowers


As a huge Bill Murray fan, I was very excited to see him portray a former Don Juan in Jim Jarmusch's new film Broken Flowers. The combination of Murray's acting style (quiet, expressing things without words, and usually playing off the dialog said by the other actors in the scene) and Jarmusch's highly visual style means that there are going to be quite a few scenes with little to no dialog, and lots of internal reflection.

Right away, you can guess that the style is not going to hit mainstream audiences. This film doesn't really have any conclusion, and makes the audience an active part of the film, by making you interrupt the outcomes or relevance of almost every scene.

Murray plays a former womanizer named Don Johnston. He made a boatload of cash from computers, and is happy to live out his days in a basic lifestyle. The film starts with Murray in a sweet tracksuit, watching television in silence. In the background, you get to see Julie Delpry packing her stuff to leave. She leaves him, after trying to get him to decide what he really wants, and apparently what he wants is to live life alone. Don finds a unsigned letter informing him that 20 years ago, he fathered a child and now the mother fears the child has left home trying to find him.

As he explains the letter to his private investigator obsessed neighbor (played b Jeffrey Wright), Winston, WInston decides Don needs to create a list of the possible mothers, and track them down to find his son. Wright books out a trip map, rents the cars, and books the hotels and sends Don on a journey (both internal and literal) to uncover his past. Wright and Murray provide the most comical moments of the film.

Don visits a variety of females, and with each ex, Jarmusch makes subtle observations of class structure in America. The emotions raised in each scene are largely left up to the viewer, but in my experience, were very strong. His descriptions of wealthy suburbia, and lower class families were spot on. The purpose of the journey it seems, is not for Don to find out his past, but to accept it for what it is, and see how it helped form his current persona.

The film may not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. Murray's ability to play the slightly depressed, quiet, smug, loser is second to none (see Lost in Translation, Rushmore, and so on and so on), but those looking for a beginning, middle , and conclusion, rich with witty dialog and resolutions will leave the theatre disappointed.


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