Publicity Stills of "Broken Flowers"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: NC-16 (Some Nudity)

Opening Day: 5 January 2006

Synopsis :

As the devoutly single Don Johnston (Murray) is dumped by his latest girlfriend (Delpy), he receives a anonymous pink letter informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. The situation causes Don to examine his relationships with women instead of moving on to the next one, and he embarks on a cross-country search for his old flames who might possess clues.

Movie Review:

What becomes of an aging Don Juan?

In this latest film offering by Indies’ favorite Jim Jarmusch (director of “Coffee and Cigarettes”) and Bill Murray of “Lost in Translation”, fame explores the possibility of one such aging Casanova who broke one too many hearts.

The story commences when Don Johnston (played by Bill Murray) received an unsigned typewritten pink letter that informs him that unknown to him, one of his lovers had borne him a son and this son has gone looking for him. With the assistance and insistence of his sleuth wannabe neighbor Winston (played by Jeffrey Wright), Don embarks on a journey in search of the women that once shared Don’s life some twenty years ago to see who might have been the author of the pink letter.

The ladies who live all over the country are as different as you can imagine. The warm and friendly Laura (played by Sharon Stone) is now a racecar driver’s widow who organizes people’s closets for a living and has a daughter aptly named Lolita. The second lady is repressed Dora (played by Frances Conroy) who had since transformed from a hippie to a real estate agent. Another lady that was in Don’s life is a successful new age animal communicator, Carman (played by Jessica Lange), and the last lover on Don’s road trip, the angry biker Penny (played by Tilda Swinton).

Each woman seemingly represents a different part of Don’s life or perhaps presents a possibility that they could have been if Don had chosen a different path. Surprisingly all the women that Don meets seem to have a preference in the color pink and although the road trip never really verified who the writer of the pink letter is, the mother of the Don’s son can be easily figured out.

As the actresses share a limited screen time in “Broken Flowers”, the crux of this film solely rides on the performance of Bill Murray who pushes the limits of acting with inexpressive minimalist facial expression. If it was any other actor playing the role of Don Johnston, the audience might just nod off to dreamland. But it was Bill Murray who managed to capture the attention with the ability to connect so much with so little.

However that also resulted in difficulties in believing that Murray’s character Don Johnston (not to be mistaken for Miami Vice’s character Don Johnson) is a Casanova type who had too many women in his life that he has trouble recalling them. More often, the audience might wonder what did the women find so attractive in this loner who doesn’t really interact well with others (perhaps except his neighbor). Perhaps the old Don Johnston wasn’t like that and perhaps he had grown weary of his lifestyle and is just plain bored but the tale doesn’t really tell and it will leave in you bewildering over it.

The ending could be described as an open one as it ranges from poetic to unresolved. Some might be irked by the lack of closure of what this film had seemly set out to do. Others might enjoy the open ended ending which makes one ponder the fate of Don Johnston and the harvest that he reaps for what he sows.

Movie Rating:

(Broken Flowers, a poignant tale of a trip back memory lane)

Review by Richard Lim Jr

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