Projections - Movie Reviews

Broken Flowers

Bill Murray, Don Johnston, Julie Delpy, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone,
Alexis Dziena, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy and Tilda Swinton

Rated: R
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: August 5, 2005 Released by: Focus Features

The second collaboration between filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and Bill Murray, Broken Flowers, is wistful, yet winsome in examining the misconnections when it comes to things in life, like human nature and love.

This Cannes Grand Prix winner shows Jarmusch stretching himself in a less quirky sensibility in appealing towards Murray's recent patterns of wry deadpan specialty. This episodic odyssey in suburbia filmed in New Jersey and places in New York like Yonkers and White Plains concerns Murray's middle-aged Don Juan, Don Johnston, a wealthy guy who made a lot of money from computers and has had plenty of girlfriends.

Don is now burrowed in an empty spacious home life and his latest live-in girlfriend played by Julie Delpy (essentially a cameo) realizes he's not the type to settle down, so she packs up.

Almost simultaneously an anonymous ex-lover's letter typewritten in red ink in a pink envelope tells Don that he fathered a son 19 years ago. He'll be reluctantly goaded into action by his amateur detective Ethiopian neighbor, Winston, enjoyably rendered by Jeffrey Wright. Winston will set up a road trip for the ambivalent Don with plane, hotel, and car-rental reservations.

One of the former girlfriends is deceased and Don will make a trip to the cemetery. Murray shapes his jaded, yet prodding character in unspecified places with vignettes for the reunion with his four exes in greeting them with pink flowers in their varying socio-economic positions.

Sharon Stone comes way up from Catwoman as a widowed mother of the rightly named teenager Lolita (Alexis Dziena) and Jessica Lange nails her role as a New Age animal specialist who is more condescending than Don may have expected. Frances Conroy, who's done quite well on HBO's "Six Feet Under", is a realtor who extends Don some peculiar hospitality. And, Tilda Swinton is nearly masked in the part of a raven-coiffed angry biker gal, which leads to Don being inflicted with some of her hostility from her backwoods friends.

In going outside of his element with a sharp feminist side, Jarmusch gets mileage out of the importance of the necessity of a personal quest to understand what choices could have been made, for better or worse. He still likes to stay in the margins right until the fitting, unformulaic ending, abetted by a provocative soundtrack throughout. After his amusing segment in Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes, Murray is in fine minimalist form who travels the distance in making his ennui a very diverting stroll through despondency.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Broken Flowers       B+       B+

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