Broken Flowers

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Rating: R

Starring:
Bill Murray as Don Johnston
Jeffrey Wright as Winston
Julie Delpy as Sherry
Heather Simms as Mona
Brea Frazier as Rita
Mark Webber as The Kid
Alexis Dziena as Lolita
Sharon Stone as Laura Daniels Miller
Frances Conroy as Dora Anderson
Christopher McDonald as Ron
Chloë Sevigny as Carmen’s Assistant
Jessica Lange as Dr. Carmen Markowski
Chris Bauer as Dan
Larry Fessenden as Will
Tilda Swinton as Penny
Pell James as Sun Green
Homer Murray as Kid in Car

Special Features:
Girls in the Bus

Broken Flowers: Start to Finish

The Farmhouse

Original Theatrical Trailer

Soundtrack Information

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following text is from the DVD cover:

“Bill Murray (Lost in Translation) stars in the comedic story of an aging Don Juan who hits the road on a revealing and humorous cross-country journey. When a mysterious pink letter informs Don Johnston (Murray) that he may have a 19-year-old son, he visits four former lovers, where he comes face to face with the errors of his past and the possibilities of the future.

From acclaimed director Jim Jarmusch and co-starring Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, and Jeffrey Wright, Broken Flowers is the highly original comedy that Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says is “filled with wonderful mischief” and “brings out the best in Bill Murray.”

Broken Flowers is rated R for language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use.

The Movie:
As I started watching Broken Flowers, I was fully on board with the concept. I loved the idea of Bill Murray as an aging Don Juan. I loved the idea that he was informed of a long lost son by a former flame. I loved Jeffrey Wright as Winston constantly pushing Don to try and solve the mystery and Don constantly pushing back (yet following through anyway). So as Don went on his cross country quest to find out who the mysterious mother and son was, I was absolutely hooked. The possibilities were endless. Unfortunately, a few other things were endless as well.

A significant portion of the film showed nothing but Murray driving or flying across the country while listening to music. It was good for setting the stage for the meetings at first, but it quickly became very tedious. A lot of the movie was wasted with this. The other problem is that 80% of Murray’s performance is nothing but him staring into space looking depressed. It becomes quite boring as well. He occasionally lights up and shows some charm, especially when interacting with Winston’s cute kids. However, it becomes quite difficult to understand how the character was a Don Juan of any kind when he’s about as expressive as Ben Stein.

The other pitfall of the film is the unsatisfying ending. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but suffice it to say that the ending of the film provides more questions than answers. That was obviously the intention of writer/director Jim Jarmusch, but if you’re the kind of person that likes your films neatly resolved by the end, Broken Flowers isn’t for you.

Despite the unsatisfying ending and Murray’s generally stoic performance, there’s a lot of great acting by the supporting cast. Sharon Stone has a good cameo as Laura Daniels Miller, a former NASCAR wife and mother of a skanky daughter. Frances Conroy also delivers a muted performance as Dora Anderson, a former flower child now boxed into a dull suburban life. Then there’s Jessica Lange as Dr. Carmen Markowski, a flaky pet conversationalist. The parade of former loves is concluded with an almost unrecognizable Tilda Swinton as Penny. It’s quite interesting to see how all the women have changed over the years and how Don’s relationship with them permanently affected them. But the guy that really steals the show is Jeffrey Wright as Winston. He’s an amateur sleuth and helps out Don by pushing him into his road trip.

I also have to commend Broken Flowers for a few great lines. Here are a few of the good ones:

Don Johnston: [to his neighbour's young daughter, about her dad] Keep your eyes open… he might be Dolemite.

Don Johnston: I’m a stalker in a Taurus.

Rita: Daddy, you’re not supposed to be smoking.
Winston: Oh, no, no. This is just some assorted herbs, some cheeba.
Don Johnston: Let me see that
[takes a drag of cigarette]
Don Johnston: Yep, it’s just cannabis sativa.

The Extras:
The bonus features on this DVD are a bit light, but here’s what you’ll find:

Girls in the Bus – These are alternate takes of the two teenage girls who chatter on the bus that Don rides. It’s funny to see how they are able to talk on and on about nothing at all.

Broken Flowers: Start to Finish – These are a series of outtakes with Murray and the supporting cast members. They present it a little differently by showing the clapboard from every scene from the movie and the outtakes in between.

The Farmhouse – This Q&A with writer/director Jim Jarmusch is also presented a little differently. They show behind the scenes footage from the farmhouse scene as Jarmusch talks over the phone about the script, actors and crew.

The Bottom Line:
Broken Flowers was a film with a great concept and fine performances, but the final result was a little too slow and existential for my tastes. However, I think anyone that enjoyed Bill Murray in Lost in Translation will enjoy him in Broken Flowers.

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