Broken Flowers - At least I laughed

Alliance Atlantis
Duration: 105min
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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I am fairly luke warm when it comes to Jim Jarmusch. The same can be said for Bill Murray. When they are on, they’re on. When they’re not, they’re not. Fortunately with Broken Flowers, they are mostly on.

What’s good.
Well, the movies pretty funny. Although I often felt that Bill Murray was sleeping through this performance (more on this later), when he was into it, he really cracked me up. Just a look or an off hand remark and I was laughing out loud.

Even better was Jeffrey Wright. His wacky neighbour bit was my favourite part of the film. He had me in stitches through most of the hour and half. I wish there had been more of him actually. When will this amazing actor and Emmy winner get the Oscar nomination he deserves?

The rest of the cast is fairly amazing too. My second favourite part of the film was the out-of-left-field casting. Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton are all cast so against type that you can hardly believe they are in these roles. It’s a refreshing slap in the face and I loved it. Lange is always a treat and she shines here. Swinton is wonderfully unrecognizable. Stone is so much more delightful now that she has become a character actress. And Conroy, teamed here brilliantly with Christopher McDonald, is a comic master.

The downside is this all highlights Murray’s less than stellar performance.

What’s not so good.
Well, Murray for one. Most of the time he seems asleep. I admit his shtick has always been a bit on the dry side but since Lost in Translation he has gotten so dry his performances are of the “is he asleep or is he acting” mode. However, once in a while, as a mentioned above, a little of the mischievousness that he is known for shines through and the film comes alive. It’s too bad, it only shines through once in a while.

Jarmusch’s direction also leaves a little to be desired. He’s not known for fast paced work and Broken Flowers is no exception. There are a lot of scenes of Murray driving. There really isn’t much plot to be advanced here or insight into the characters to be explored. There is just driving. There are also quite a few scenes of people looking at each other. Again, I failed to see the reason. The film could have been 10 minutes (or more) shorter and it would have benefited greatly.

Finally, I would also question the need for Julie Delpy and Chloë Sevigny who have less than glorified cameos. Why cast actresses in roles that require mannequins? Okay I have never really been that impressed with Sevigny but still…

The Verdict.
Broken Flowers is a light fun romp with a few weaknesses. The ending is a hoot although people who like their stories wrapped up nicely may be disappointed. I thought it was really the only way a film like this could end. At least I laughed.

Review By: Collin Smith

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