One of the twinkling highlights of the summer, "Broken Flowers" continues Bill Murray's streak of excellence and offers up this year's "Napoleon Dynamite," only this one has a plot.
"Broken Flowers" follows the adventures of Don Johnston (Murray) after he receives a mysterious, unsigned letter that implies that he has a 19-year old son. Curious about who the mother is and goaded by his mystery-loving neighbor (Jeffrey Wright), he travels cross country to meet up with the four ex-girlfriends who could be the mothers. Unfortunately, meeting up with four women he hasn't seen for twenty years is a difficult task, and not all will be pleased to see him. Thankfully for us the audience, they're all pretty odd characters.
Murray is terrific as usual, as is the impressive array of supporting members. Murray, who can make even the simplest of screenplays seem complicated, works his magic yet again, as, once again, his character really doesn't say a whole lot but makes us laugh nonetheless. Wright, as the slightly neurotic and overly-curious neighbor is a riot, but it's the four ex-girlfriends who really make the movie what it is...
The film, directed superbly by Jim Jarmusch, is interesting to look at thanks to the simple yet engaging sets and blatantly direct camera angles. "Broken Flowers" proves that movies don't need flashy direction to be sophisticated; the movie never tries to be flashy and succeeds brilliantly. The first five or ten minutes are unfortunately slow and drawn out, but once Wright comes into the picture and Murray hits the road, things pick up quickly.
A spoiler alert should be given for the rest of the review, as the surprise of what the ex-girlfriends are is a big piece of the movie. The first girlfriend Murray encounters is played by Sharon Stone, who has an overly sexy teenage daughter (played by Alexis Dziena) named - yes, you guessed it - Lolita. Enough said. Move on to girlfriend number two, played by Frances Conroy ("Six Feet Under"), who is married to Christopher McDonald ("Happy Gilmore"). If you don't know who he is, you'll recognize him when you see him. Enough said. Move on to Jessica Lange, an animal communicator of all things, and then Tilda Swinton as a white trash bitch. Needless to say, Jarmusch had no problem finding big names to fill his cast. All deliver terrific, offbeat performances.
Those who don't like quirky comedy as seen in such films as "About Schmidt" and "Napoleon Dynamite" should stay clear, but if you do, "Broken Flowers" is a can't miss. Funny, intriguing and ultimately entertaining, "Broken Flowers" is definitely one of the better movies of the summer, if not all of 2005.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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