August 29, 2014

Broken Flowers

Jim Jarmusch, 2005
Bill Murray delivers one of his more subdued performances, similar in a sense to his character in Lost in Translation. But while his Bob Harris character in Lost in Translation had a more cynical sense of humor with a certain degree of energy to pursue some level of enjoyment, his Don Johnston character here is more gloomy and forsaken. He has a sheer deadpan quality to him. In the first few minutes of the film you see his weary girlfriend (Julie Delpy) walking out on him, giving you the feeling that it's one of many over the years. He goes on to sit frozen on the couch like a reclusive ghost with the lights off, like he is in a heartbroken purgatory. He would continue to do this indefinitely if it weren't for his intrusive friend / wannabe private investigator Winston (Jeffrey Wright) pressing him on details and really causing him to get up and get moving. Winston is living the opposite life as Don, with a loving wife and active children running around. When Winston gets knowledge of the letter he pushes Don to probe the possibilities. This leads Don on a wild goose chase, desperately hoping to find out which one of his several exes have given birth to his son.

You get the feeling that Don feels like he's getting a last chance for something. Perhaps be present in SOME kind of relationship. He may not have any faith in pursuing a new relationship with a woman, but who knows, maybe his oddball personality can mesh well with a young child. You don't really get any sense that he wants to change for the most part. So you continue to watch Don drag himself through his past. He is served with some smiles, some frowns. It's quite obvious that some relationships had ended much more poorly. The differences between the women are quite dramatic, it seems as if Don continued to try to connect with varying personalities without much success.

Jarmusch really creates an interesting picture here. It certainly isn't fast-paced. It moves along at Don's pace. He has grown into a tired crawl in his life. But it's a picture that doesn't bore. Bill Murray has that ability to keep you engaged with his character, no matter how detached he may be. His pursuit pulls you in and keeps you wondering to the bitter end. 

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