Broken Flowers, a film by Jim Jarmusch, is now my highest rated film I’ll have reviewed on my blog. 8.7, pipping A Separation’s measly 8.5. “But nothing really happens?It’s boring!” No, it’s not really boring, this director and this particular leading man are masters of apparently doing nothing; the perfect duo to hide an excellent, hilarious film in plain sight.
I’m undeniably a fan of Jim Jarmusch’s work; regrettably the only major work of his I haven’t seen is Ghost Dog: The way of the Samurai, also a great film apparently. Everything from the realism that showing people before/after any action occurs entails, to the trippy soundtracks and dream sequences,to the signature fading in and out is top filmmaking in my opinion. A modern romantic, mystery dramedy with Bill Murray though? Yes. Ten times yes.
Murray plays Don Johnston, he’s dating a pink-wearing, fast-talking Julie Delpy character however he still acts like a bachelor; falling asleep in front of the TV in a college-style tracksuit, beverage in hand at God knows what hour. She leaves him and soon after Don receives an unsigned note detailing how in his earlier ladykilling days (around 20 years earlier) he’d unknowingly fathered a son who’s now of age and already left to find his dad. Seemingly only moved by a fraction of an emotion, Don, with a little organisational help from Winston his neighbour (Jeffrey Wright), sets out on an epic state/country-wide search for ex-lovers and answers.
So quite a simple story-line, right? Well that’s all it really needs. The film, for me, wasn’t much about the storyline anyway. For me, such an alignment of director and actor, a match made in heaven, made me more than willing to just tag along for the ride wherever it was going. The camera, often unwavering and shooting Murray side of frame at a mid-shot could roll for two minutes and flickers of emotion caught on Don’s face told half the story by themselves. In the beginning and throughout the film we’re still wondering whether Don would really want to have a relationship with his son or if he thinks he’s even mature enough to do so.
And then comes the humour. Jarmusch is known for dry yet extremely cool comedy in his films, whether it be something as simple as the ironic gain and loss of a fortune in Stranger than paradise or pain in the ass vampire family members killing your human pals in Only lovers left alive. One of my favourite scenes in the film is when Don walks into a real life Lolita situation and indicates how he can’t quite believe it with hilarious sarcastic quips and eyebrow raising. In fact, tracking through his beautiful exes like a pacifist Scott Pilgrim drives the film. Even more curious is how a guy who describes his work history as “in computers” ever got involved with these animal-whispering, Lolita-raising, estate-vending women in the first place. Ah, money… yeah he was likely getting paid big time.
For having elements of everything you could want in a film in terms of interesting filmmaking, romance, comedy and drama that actually builds to a satisfying, climactic ending (that’s still in touch with the film’s overall tone) Broken Flowers is one film that should never be left to wilt away into the corners of the history of cinema.