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Plot: As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers. Runtime: 106 mins Release Date: 26 Aug 2005
Jim Jarmusch returns to the screen with an immensely pleasing film that looks extremely simple, but in fact, it's what is not being said that really is at the center of the picture. Mr. Jarmusch is one director that loves to work with an economy of everything. His films seem to be crying for a set decorator, but that is misleading, because it's the simplicity that seems to work in most cases.If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you should stop reading here.At the center of the story is Don Johnston, whose name seems to provoke in most people a recognition by associating it to the <more>
actor, Don Johnson. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Don is a taciturn man, who when we meet him is being dumped by his last girlfriend. Don Johnston, with his deadpan demeanor, appears to be a man that has gone through life on auto pilot. In fact, when he receives the letter that will, in a way, change his life, he doesn't even react. His solution to the problem is to show this letter to his next door neighbor, Winston. Little does Don knows, but Winston maps out a plan to get him involved in the solution of the mystery he is presented. We accompany Don in a trip of discovery to reacquaint himself with former lovers who might have been instrumental in sending the pink letter.Thus we meet Laura, the closet organizer, a widow now, living with a precocious daughter, Lolita, who seems to have jumped from the Nabokov's book, in all her precociousness. Then, there is Dora, the real estate woman who lives in a development in which all the houses look alike. We meet Carmen, the pet communicator, a sort of animal analyst who has turned her love interest another way. Finally, we are given a glimpse of Penny, who couldn't care less to see Don one more time.The opening sequence that sets the story in motion is nothing but perfection. We watch the fateful letter at the beginning when it's being dropped in the mail box right up to its delivery through Don's mail slot.Jim Jarmusch, and his amazing cast have done wonders with this film. Bill Murray is sensational as the jaded Don Johnston. Once again, this actor clearly shows he is at the top of the game. Jeffrey Wright, one of the best young actors working in films and in the theater these days, makes a valuable contribution as Winston. The women in Don's life are fantastic. Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Julie Delpy, Tilda Swinton, and Jessica Lange are seen at their best. Finally, two excellent turns by Alexis Dziena as Lolita and Chloe Sevigny as an assistant to Carmen.Mr. Jarmusch has created a film that says a lot about how modern relationships are being practiced these days.
one of Jarmusch's and Murray's best (by Quinoa1984)
It would be hard for me to recommend this film to some people, even if as a particular film-goer as myself it kept me in my seat as it went by with its deliberate or slow as most would put it pace. For an actor like Bill Murray, this is a 180 turn from his classic comedy roles in Caddyshack and Ghostbusters both films I love for his style of quick witted, instantly quotable lines - this time, as I've read, he and writer/director Jim Jarmusch took the subtle, subdued approach of Buster Keaton, but done all Murray's way. He continues the sort of 'phase' he's been in <more>
starting with Lost in Translation and going somewhat into The Life Acquatic- now his is reactions which make up the best parts, and the occasional zingers work well against the supporting cast.The reason one might consider Broken Flowers as Jarmusch's most 'mainstream' film is because it is filmed a little more like one, very steady camera-work, and seeming a little more like a Hollywood type film with the cast Sharon Stone, Francis Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Jeffrey Wright among others . And the story seems like something one might find in a conventional romantic comedy- Murray plays Don Johnston not Johnson, as a running joke in the film , a fading Don Juan type who is very well off but also rather isolated with himself. Around the same time his current girlfriend leaves him, he finds a mysterious pink colored letter in a pink envelope. Wright, playing an amusing neighbor of Don's, sets him up to go on a search to find the long lost son the letter alludes to. He reluctantly goes on the search.What is interesting about a filmmaker like Jarmusch, with only a few others I can think of, is that his pace and style and way the film unfolds, my heartbeat never goes too fast or too slow with the rhythm, and it stays consistent. When the climax to the film comes, it's more contemplative than exciting. As Don visits the four women, who each give him something different to offer if not answering his questions for the 'mystery' , the comedy kicks in, but as with the scenes with Wright's character Winston, it's not often 'laugh-out loud' funny, but the wit is there. Some of it is surprising the daughter character, Lolita, brings a big laugh , and just strange Lange's job as an 'animal communicator' , but it's often not so much about hitting for big punches as for more realistic ones. We get long some might say too long breaks as Don drives in his car, and then something more comes along. For me, at least, it was rather compelling in a minimalist way, which is what Jarmusch is a master of.Some have said that the ending was unfulfilled, that it didn't serve a purpose and left the film with unanswered questions. I found the ending to really be even more fulfilling, perhaps on an existential or some kind of unspeakable level, than something that would typically be cooked up in Hollywood. As Murray stand in the street, the camera moving around him and stopping on him, it had me thinking and finally feeling some emotional attachment to Don. Early in the film, he's almost too subdued, and has an upper-middle class status that brings a detachment like with a lead in an Antonioni film. He says he's content with being on his own doing whatever, but by the end he has come full circle. Murray plays these last couple of scenes wonderfully, bringing one to see that the film is not about the usual solving of a mystery of 'who is my son'.It's about searching, and finding a connectedness to people. This, again, may sound off-putting to people who just want to be simply entertained, and it may be boring &/or pretentious to the core mainstream fans of Murray. But his performance, and Jarmusch's direction, makes its best way in a realm of its own, taking a simple premise and giving it an original take, and substance, and a specific rhythm. In other words, Jarmusch fans need not be frightened that it looks less 'artsy' than a film like Dead Man or Mystery Train, and for those who loved Murray's work in Lost in Translation will find a similar wavelength to cling to.
I am a film studies student fortunate enough to be at the Cannes Festival and somehow fenangled my way into the premiere of Broken Flowers, in fact sitting in the aisle diagonal to Jim, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, and Julie Deply. The movie was utterly satisfying for me. I had an avid fear that it would end up ANOTHER Bill Murray movie, which is practically a genre in and of itself these days, although Jarmusch already reinvigorated his classic demeanor in Coffee and Cigarettes. Much to my relief, Broken Flowers provides many a moment for Murray to shine, for it is truly a film centered <more>
around him. It is more of a return to Jarmusch's earlier films, rather than the second round of linked stories like Mystery Train and Night on Earth or the play with genre of the latter works. Unlike Stranger than Paradise or Down By Law, however, the focus is not on a trio but one man, which opens the door for more detailed character development than Jarmusch is normally willing to give. I don't want to say that it is his most accessible work, but a more mature and developed one. It has the most structured storyline to date but as usual, Jarmusch always remains restrained. Jeffrey Wright is a delight, and Swinton is unrecognizable. The scene between Murray, Frances Conroy what a treat for a Six Feet Under Fan in particular received applause from the crowd, as did the film as a whole. In many ways the film reminded me of About Schmidt, particularly the ending, but was much more minimal and appealing to all ages. The soundtrack, an ethiopoan musician's take on spy music, added a great touch and the whimsical play with mystery and clues is continuously weaved throughout. There is no closure, no emotional overtow, and no real payoff, but the film is very well crafted. I am still trying to articulate it and incredibly sleep deprived but feel free to contact me with any questions. I saw that no one had posted yet and i thought that as a complete Jarmusch dork, I should extend my knowledge. Later I'll actually provide a good review.
There has been a lot of talk that "Broken Flowers" is Jim Jarmusch's most commercially accessible film to date. One can almost hear Jarmusch muttering something reactionary like "commercial? That's just a label." It's a label that some Jarmusch fans might associate with "selling out". But selling out does not apply to Jim Jarmusch. He still has complete control of his work and is still the only American filmmaker who owns his own negatives. If "Broken Flowers" does break into the mainstream, it is nothing overly deliberate. Jarmusch makes <more>
familiar films that seem intimate in their tone. He toys with old themes while still leaving his films open to interpretation. "Broken Flowers" is a travelogue and like most Jarmusch films, the story is more concerned with the journey but not so much about the destination. Bill Murray plays Don Johnston, a man who we know little about. We know he's single and we know he's had some flame's in the past. The last one just walked out on him. When Don receives an anonymous letter from one of these old flames, he learns that he has a twenty year old son who might be looking for him." Don thinks this is a joke but takes the advice from a friend to unfold the mystery by tracking down his past flings. He flies somewhere to a generic American place, rents a car and begins his investigation. Each ex has an individual personality but most of them share something similar. They are content and have moved on from the past. One of the ex's we meet works in real estate and decides it would be a good idea for her to get into the water business because "one day in the near future it will be more valuable then oil." The atmosphere is awkward and rather then care whether this woman is responsible for the anonymous letter, we just feel like getting out of there. The film's journey is absurd in many ways because we are never sure what the real point is. What is Don going to do if he does find his son? This where Bill Murray's credit as an actor shines through. We see from his small facial gestures that he is empty, and sad. There is a sense of longing as if life took a wrong turn somewhere and it is only now that he is realizing it. The ending of "Broken Flowers" is what really makes the film special. Don't expect too much or too little. Just see it. Its inspiring, hopeful and better then any other movie this year. The film also has a great soundtrack by Ethiopian musician, Mulatu Astatke. And we see in the credits that Jarmusch dedicated the film to French filmmaker Jean Eustache. Jean Eustache made a phenomenal film in the 1960's titled, "The Mother and The Whore". He had an influence on John Cassavetes and likewise both had an influence on Jim Jarmusch.
Broken Flowers: a tragi-comic visual poem. (by keith-farman-1)
Broken Flowers - Jim Jarmusch Jim Jarmusch writes movies. I don't mean he writes screenplays - though he does. No, he uses images the way a poet uses words. No waste. Every image carries weight. Resonates. Certainly his two most recent movies, Coffee and Cigarettes and now Broken Flowers are visual poems. Broken Flowers, unlike C&C is a narrative poem. It is a short, beautifully composed short story with Bill Murray's Don Johnston - with a 't' - at its heart.In a sadly now lost interview, Steve McQueen once said a man should feel as much as possible and show as little as <more>
possible. This unfashionable conception deserves deeper examination than our contemporary conventional wisdom is likely to give it, but it sums up Don Johnston literally to a 't'. However subtle, Bill Murray's humour is delightfully accessible. The deeper emotions of his more serious characters are harder to read. And his extraordinary, almost unique 'innerness' as an actor makes you work hard. In a superb performance in an excellent film, it is a fine judgement as to whether he might have given us just a little bit more colour and shading. We can see only too well why the women in his life kept leaving him but he makes us work a bit to see why they would have been with him in the first place. Murrray has cornered the market in men who can give but not take - Bob Harris in Lost In Translation and now Don Johnston in Broken Flowers. In a key piece of dialogue early on, as current partner Sherry Julie Delpy , follows the other women in Don's life - out of it - he asks "what do you want Sherry?" She replies "what do you want Don?" And he's stumped. One feels Sherry would settle for any answer but not for none.When he receives an unsigned letter from an ex-girlfriend, amateur sleuth neighbour Winston Jeffrey Wright cajoles Don onto a reverse road trip of his life. The distinctive typed missive, addressed in red writing on a pink envelope, excites Winston's forensic aspirations and informs Don that his hitherto unmarried, unparented life actually created an unknown son 20 years ago, For Winston this is an intriguing mystery to be unravelled. For a reluctant Don it draws him into revisiting his former selves through the women he once either loved, or bedded; or it is left unclear , perhaps both.Broken Flowers, although like C&C, visually poetic in form and style, is more short story in content. So simple, pared down and explicitly existential in spirit, it brings Camus to mind. Pretentious thought that may sound, Jarmusch's poetic visual style has all the direct simplicity and philosophical resonance of Camus' prose. Asked for some 'fatherly' wisdom, Don apologetically replies, "The past is gone - I know that. And the future is still to come. So I guess there is just now." Outside the context of this elusive and allusive film, these remarks sound like a banal tautology. But there's the art. Jarmusch's art. His simple film 'language' resonates with feeling and, unusually for movies - ideas. Poetic. And if philosophical ideas seem a fanciful allusion for simple words, a remark of Wittgenstein's comes to mind when he observed that despite its apparent form, the expression "War is war" is no mere tautology.As in C&C, but to a lesser extent, Broken Flowers has an episodic 'chapter'-like structure. Or more precisely, series of verses. And Jarmusch's cinematic style has a distinctive literary feel to it. His editing quietly 'punctuates' each scene and sequence precisely and without distraction. The full stops and commas of cuts and fades, provide a clear narrative structure, so that when the camera or the lens move, or the shot is held, it is precisely the contrast that makes it work so well. And like a good poet, Jarmusch likes to leave words, images and phrases hanging in the air. Unexplained. Unresolved. Jarmusch's great quality as a filmmaker is that his work is participative - a dialogue with his audience and their own experience. And like all good poems Broken Flowers will mean different things to different people even though its basic facts are not in doubt. In his art, the facts are the starting point, not the end. Want facts as conclusion, resolution - an answer? Try science. Or Hollywood.Broken Flowers is, as the old saying has it, a mystery wrapped in an enigma: Winston's mystery - Don's enigma. Its ending is as satisfying, as it is unresolved. Murray doesn't so much show us Don's emotional life, still less act it, rather he lets small glimpses of it escape. His tears over the ex-girlfriend who died in a car crash; his sense of failure about Sherry; his warmth and understated friendship with Winston and his family. But poignantly, we see he wants to have had a son. Wants them to find each other. Murray superbly insinuates to us a man full of feeling who is bemused by his own inability to find a way to let it out. As in many of his characterisations - a genuinely tragi-comic figure.Zettel 2005
I can't say I'm a Jim Jarmish fan. However, this collaboration with Bill Murray brought the best out of both of them. Bill is just amazing anyway. His acting draws the viewer in to his world. The saying " less is more" Murray epitomizes. Jarmish plays with the same idea and allows silence to act in this film. The mood the stark film quality and story give all the actors room to breath. Every scene is an evolution into unfolding feeling. Basically, this film seemed written for Murray's effortlessness acting style. Yet Murray's character is played at first with almost <more>
totally non-vulnerability you want him to open up. But all the time you see glimmers of him doing just that and then you even appreciate his stuck-ness. All the other actors are wonderful as well. I have seen Sharon Stone's acting as someone trying to hard, but people, she was just crazy and alive in her role in this film. She changed my mind. Jessica Lange's performance is just perfect. What a woman. All in all I must give this film 2 thumbs up and my big toes are saluting it as well. Funny, thoughtful and very entertaining. Bravo.
Wonderfully unique and charming but perhaps too spare (by drjimmycooper)
I just saw this at a press screening. It's very smart, well-made and entertaining, directed with sure-handed control, full of quirky, funny moments and superb acting. The film pretty much avoids clichés, although it does rely a bit on the familiar "Aren't Middle-Americans quirky?" idea for its humor. But Jarmusch never goes too far with this, his restraint keeping the film propelled from beginning to end.The only weakness for me is rooted in the film's strength: I feel like there's not quite enough here. Murray's character is beleaguered and despondent, Murray <more>
plays him with perfect subtlety. This is fun and fascinating to watch; I found myself hanging onto every little expression on Murray's face. But, the combination of his passive, muted performance and the spare storytelling left me wanting more. It just doesn't have as much impact as I feel it could have. So, yes, it's wonderful minimalism, but perhaps a bit too slight of a movie to have any lasting resonance.Bill Murray has added another very good performance to his career, and Jim Jarmusch has made another compact little gem unlike some of his more recent films . Unique and entertaining. Definitely worth seeing.
Good Movie from an On Again/Off Again Director (by evanston_dad)
I can't think of an actor better suited to play the expressionless chronic bachelor Don at the heart of Jim Jarmusch's newest movie than Bill Murray. His mournful hound-dog face, which hides any trace of what's going on inside the head on which it sits, stares blankly at the T.V., at other people, sometimes at nothing, betrays itself with the slightest movement of the mouth or twitch of the eyes. It's a characterization Murray has so down pat that I'm tempted to think he's not really acting all that much, but he's so perfectly cast that it doesn't much matter <more>
whether he's acting or not.If you're not familiar with the movies of Jim Jarmusch, "Broken Flowers" is a nice introduction, as it's the most accessible Jarmusch film I've seen. I'm not a huge fan, but I liked this movie quite a lot. Don receives an anonymous letter one day from a past girlfriend, telling him he has a 19-year-old son who may come looking for him. Murray's friend, Winston played amusingly by the chameleon Jeffrey Wright , convinces him to track down a handful of women who could have possibly been the mother and resolve the mystery. Don agrees to it, seemingly not so much because he has a need to know but because he has nothing better to do. What follows is a series of scenes with each past girlfriend, during which their interactions with Don tell us heaps about their relationship back when they were dating. Some are affectionate, some are distant, one is downright scarily angry, but all are played beautifully by a quartet of actresses: Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton.This is Jarmusch, so there aren't necessarily any tidy answers, and I don't think I give anything away by saying that the mystery is never solved. Life is messy, and it doesn't always happily resolve itself just because we want it to. I liked how subtle the film was; Don doesn't make any huge ground-breaking discoveries about himself, but nevertheless you sense that he's a slightly different person after his journey than he was before it.You'll have to be patient, as Jarmusch tells his story very slowly, and nearly all of Don's interaction with others is ponderously awkward. But the movie slowly begins to fascinate, and you find yourself watching the faces of the women he visits and examining the visible details of their lives much in the same way that Don is himself, looking for the slightest hint that she might be the one who sent that fateful letter.A very fine film, poignant and sad in a rather obscure way, and one that stays in your mind for a while after seeing it.Grade: A-
A subtle, quiet, quirky, and largely interpretable drama (by BroadswordCallinDannyBoy)
Don Johnston, that's "with a T," has been left by his latest girlfriend and has also received an anonymous letter from what can only be a former flame. It states that he has a 19 year-old son who is looking for him. With the persuasion of an odd, but well meaning neighbor, he sets out to figure things out in his slow and uneventful life.With a large focus on sensationalism these days, even in dramas, even in good dramas, like History of Violence and Crash, there is always usually that element of the extraordinary. Huge life changing experiences that not only change the <more>
protagonist, but everyone around them. Inner racial tensions shoot out like a shell out of a cannon or a violent past hits a character like a freight train. But here, Jim Jarmusch gives us... nothing. A boring man who could care less about anything. Who just drives and dully interacts with his former girlfriends. Barely showing any sort of exterior emotions to even some truly unexpected surprises. Like Murray in the lead, Jarmusch chucks in a lot of subtleties here and there. And like Murray in the lead, these subtle hints of what is really going on hardly lead anywhere unless the viewer decides they do.It also works out as anything but a turn off or anticlimax holycrap, did I just say that? , but rather gets you to think back to what you saw. And it REALLY points out the impact of relative perception to events past with those complex creatures known as humans. --- 8/10Rated R, but really has minimal profanity and brief nudity.