Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: Broken Flowers

Broken Flowers was a movie made for Bill Murray. It's pacing and mood fits perfectly with his acting style. He's a minimalist, and this is a subtle movie. At times it is too subtle, shows too little, but nonetheless, it works.

Murray plays Don Johnston, a fairly wealthy man who is a serial bachelor. When we see him in his home, he sits, unmoving, in the dark. He is a depressing character who is only lulled out of his stupor by his neighbor. A hyperkinetic wannabe gumshoe who has five kids and three jobs. At his neighbors home is the only time we see an actual, genuine smile of happiness. 
Johnston received a letter from an unknown author, in a pink envelope, written on pink paper, informing him that he has a 19 year old son and that he has left home to find his father. Johnston's neighbor is fascinated by this and organizes a trip for Johnston to visit his old girlfriends and search for clues regarding the authors identity. Johnston resists, then agrees, a man who knows that he should do something to change his life, take some kind of action, but is terrified of it, in his understated way.

In a different movie, a movie not quite so effective, the movie would focus on the unfurling of the plot. We'd know more at the end of the film than at the beginning about the author of his letter and if he actually does have a son. There would be a climactic and emotional reunion with his son and the movie would be wrapped in a neat little bow. Instead, we focus on Murray's character choosing to be more than a witness to his own life, and how great an actor he really is.

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