Saturday, August 28, 2010
Broken Flowers; Drama, USA/ France, 2005; D: Jim Jarmusch, S: Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Frances Conroy, Sharon Stone, Julie Delpy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Alexis Dziena, Julie Delpy
Don Johnston, a secluded middle-aged womanizer, receives an anonymous pink letter that informs him that he has a 19-year old son. Upon the insistence of his neighbor Winston, obsessed with detective stories, Don starts an odyssey to visit his five former girlfriends whom could be the mothers of his potential son. He meets Laura, Carmen, Dora, Penny and one deceased, Michelle, but doesn't discover anything. Returning to his home town, he meets a 19-year old lad, but neither he is his son.
Even though "Broken Flowers" has a more beautiful title than the film as a whole, it is still a poetic achievement that stimulates the viewers to think. Jim Jarmusch is neither Kieslowski, nor Antonioni, nor Ozu, but he is still a talented film maker who knows how to make a demanding minimalistic film with an esoteric mood. The exposition of "Flowers" abounds with subtle details and ideas - for instance, when Don takes off the ball from the tree of his neighbor's children on his way to him or the shot of dead flowers in the vase - whereas Bill Murray's and Jeffrey Wright's characters are excellent antipodes to each other: Winston is poor, but has a wife and many kids who love him, whereas Don is rich, respectful and has many girlfriends, but none of his relationships worked for life and he is alone and empty. The complaints of some critics (a too slow rhythm, underdeveloped characters of Don's former lovers) stand, but one can hardly dispute the quality of the symbolical drama (mostly showing how the protagonist was disappointed with the fact that his once wonderful Don Juan life was slowly replaced with sterile living. Even the unnecessary nude scene by Lolita actually makes sense: he saw the youth in her, which reminded him of her mother, who was once his lover, and this bitter reality of change frightens him to almost leave the house before he meets her again), mostly due to the deliberately mysterious context. Namely, the ending is deliberately ambiguous, resulting in Don starting to suspect if he actually exists or not. The solution of the secret was never the point of the film, though, but Don's transition from passive to active existence.