East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Broken Flowers: Don Juan's reckless dolor [movie note]

Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch

In which Don Johnston (Bill Murray), being tracked by his hitherto unsuspected 19-year-old son, searches for the boy's mother, whoever she might be. He visits all his exes from the relevant period, whose faces look like screenshots from awfulplasticsurgery.com. Murray has the advantage of his original face, which he chooses not to use very much. His inexpressiveness has its uses, but I bet he previously thought that deadpan required the character to at least occasionally be funny.

Jarmusch sets up contrasts between Don's women--the hippie-turned real estate capitalist versus the lawyer-turned-animal communicator--which are too facile (they should've been contrasted with Don). Despite this, some of the performers make something of their roles; in particular, Chloƫ Sevigny as the animal communicator's domineering assistant, and Sharon Stone as Laura, a literal NASCAR widow. Younger than Don, Laura too has reached a point where it seems the last fork in the road is behind her--there's nothing left to do except see how things play out. She too wears a mask: hers is to hide her loneliness from the rest of the world, Don's is to hide his from himself. B PLUS

Second opinions:
David Edelstein: "the crowning performance in what I call Bill Murray's Loneliness Trilogy..."
Jessica Winter: "The cutesy snark of the set design overlays Jarmusch's typically skeletal economy of exposition, nudging the director's laconic approach to characterization into faintly cartoonish one-dimensionality."


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