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Broken Flowers

Starring: Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, and Tilda Swinton
Directed/written by: Jim Jarmusch
Original Music: Mulatu Astatke

 

 


Bluntly speaking?
Director writer Jim Jarmusch is a painter upon film. A Matisse, or perhaps tone-wise, more a Vermeer ( thanks to the symphonic stylings of oft-collaborator cinematographer Frederick Elmes). Jim makes no excuses for his pauses, awkward hanging moments, and pimpled truths the camera peeks in on. And that's why when folks who know - when they hear of - a new Jarmusch film coming to theaters, a broad smile of anticipation crosses their little art-film set faces.

Story goes…Don Johnston (Bill Murray) has just been dumped by, what one immediately feels, is just another pretty notch upon his emotionless soul. He sits calmly on a dated couch as we watch a screaming ex-to-be gather and depart.

Don is without remorse - heck he's without glee - he just is.

Then he risies, unscathed by the fore moment that would have most folks deep within a bottle of Jack, and gets his mail.

An undiscript letter advises him that a while ago, during one of his relationships, a child - a boy - was born. The writer says she is telling him now, because the boy is a man and will be heading out to look for his father. Don should be ready...

No signature. No name. No other evidence - accept the timeframe of the childbearing relationship, the choice of the color of paper, and a faint scent upon the pulp.

Don goes to his close friend and neighbor Winston (Jeffrey Wright). Winston is a hobby-detective. Gleefully, Winston examines the note for clues of the woman's identity. Don and his sleuthing friend Winston discover there were five women that could have become mothers - and subsequently despised Don enough to ever let him know...though in their defense, Don is not exactly "Dad of the Year" material. He's so dull infact you're thinking perhaps a mirror beneath the nose should be in order - just in case.

With a few confirmed facts, Winston advises Don he must go forth, literally, and find whom this child's mother is. Winston turns travel agent and maps out the route. A reluctant Don takes a road down Sam Spade's wary path. Don goes jet setting into the past; looking up the women he schtupped with during the letter's time period - looking up lost loves and relationships in hopes of figuring out who sent the note...

Broken Flowers is blossoming with wonderful vibrant performances by the folks around, and in, "Don's" life. Sharon Stone, Francis Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton positively radiate as the women approached by a past lover …and each of Don's past mates produce a powerhouse performance riddled with a realism director Jarmusch continually seems to capture from his talents; like an entomologist moves in on a rare Papilio Polydamas. Bill Murray is his usual lethargic self; it's a tad grating but Jarmusch must have seen him as a blank pawn in his world and let the characters around him tell the tale - either that or this is the only way Murray acts…

But, within all the sublime performances, it is the edible-in-his-own-right, versible man-nugget Jeffrey Wright who positively steals the show. As usual, this character actor-sort disappears and refigures himself within, to promote without, a new being you'd want to look up in the phonebook - he creates and remolds that well. Wright's like Giamatti - he's in everything, and can play anything - disguised talent the big studios don't know how to package. Jarmusch does, and he delivers Jeffrey to us with a big beautiful flamboyant frilly bow.

Jarmusch's work is never for everyone; masses pass. But for those who appreciate his style of film manipulation, and slow and steady storytelling, run to the theater this weekend. Enjoy.

Snack recommendation: Ethiopian empanadas and a Hank's Handcrafted Berry soda.

 

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