"Everyone gets what they want" is the slogan for the title characters in a movie that inadvertently makes the audience its mark. It comes out not long after the Bernie Madoff story came down where unlikely folks were defrauded in the pernicious Ponzi scheme.
The Brothers Bloom, as directed by Rian Johnson, is nicely headlined by Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, and Mark Ruffalo, and has some appeal as a globe-trotting comedy. Yet, it is hardly effervescent in ways that its cool ambition into relating the confidence of its story can't overcome.
The older Stephen Bloom (Ruffalo) finally latches onto the perfect (last grand) con with the help of a pro (Maximilian Schell) though younger Bloom (Brody) desires "an unwritten life". Johnson lets the fraternal teamwork out from when they were pre-teen emptying a couple of dollars from a group of kids when donning those large black hats. That was back when they dwelled in gloomy foster homes.
The assembly-line of the twisty narrative commences about twenty-five years forthwith as Bloom takes a liking to the siblings' target - Weisz's bored, single New Jersey heiress Penelope, and is reluctant to take advantage of her innocence. It could very well undermine what should be an illicit thrill for all involved as effort is made into taking a manuscript and getting twice its actual value.
In this intricate web of deceit and danger, there is ample backing from Penelope (bankrolling a sizable deal), as she joins the brothers and their "associate", Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi, nominated for her work in the telling Babel), a mute really into explosives. Oscar-winner Weisz is a spry, vibrant presence here in showcasing an impulsive beautiful eccentric gal, yet even she (so good in the less free-wheeling Confidence and stealing low-budget ones like The Shape of Things) can't bring joy into this fascination of discerning between the actual and the con.
Brody, who also has an Academy Award (for The Pianist) and Ruffalo (quite good in Zodiac reminding one of Peter Falk) are game but not very convincing, victimized by the approach as sparks hardly flicker among the main characters, especially the romantic tension between Bloom and Penelope. Those who liked Johnson's more vibrant Raymond Chandler-like meller Brick will like the look of The Brothers Bloom as it evokes the film noir of the 1930s. Still, this unsuccessful, but insinuating trickery has much visual personality in its sense of place (shooting occurred in the likes of Romania and Prague) as it jettisons from Athens to Mexico to St. Petersburg.