Truly Bad Films

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Movie Review

Broken Flowers (2005)

Bill Murray plays an ageing Don Juan who gets a mysterious letter telling him he has a 19 year old son who may suddenly appear on his doorstep. With the help of a next-door neighbor, who is a fanatical mystery fan, Don narrows the possible mothers of his rumored son to four. Then he embarks on a trip to visit each former-girlfriend, unannounced. It made me laugh when Don sums up his discomfort with the situation this way: "I'm a stalker in a Taurus."

Stalker or no, he makes all four visits where he is cagey, in varying degrees, about his reasons for re-appearing in the lives of these women whom he had not contacted for 19 years. I enjoyed seeing the various meeintgs play out in unexpected and awkward ways. All the actors in this film are exceptional, but the pacing is exceedingly slow. Director Jim Jarmusch allows the camera to linger on scenes where the only thing that is happening is the slow decay of time and we get far too many lengthly shots of rolling countryside in Don's driver-side mirror. Yes, Jim, we know he had to drive to get there. We know he's "looking back!". Wow - the symbolism is killing me. We know. We don't need to see even one more frame of Don driving, or mirrors - thank you!

And, the film is handled somewhat two-dimensionally in that we get hit over the head from a half-dozen different angles with the whole "He is JUST like Don Juan" comparison in the first 20 minutes of the film. Don's character is passive and static to the point where I was convinced the man needed anti-depressants and electro-shock more than a trip to see old girlfriends. So, I was surprised to find that, even though the film sort of aggravated me while watching it, I've thought about it several times since the final credits. It stirred me beneath the surface, and that is unusual enough to make this film worth seeing again.


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