Thursday, October 06, 2005

Broken Flowers (2005)

Okay, I appreciate intellectually what this film is doing. It's a film about waking up one morning and realizing that you are old and alone and you can no longer hide that you don't know what you're doing. It's a film, basically, about coming to terms with the fact that your life is insubstantial. But did the film itself need to be similarly insubstantial? Yes, it's thematically fascinating, but onscreen it just kind of lies there. Maybe it's because the journey isn't that interesting, or maybe it's because the women are all thin, easily-mockable caricatures, but I had difficulty finding anything to hold onto here. Bill Murray pushes his newfound hangdog persona so far into laconic Jarmuscheque opacity that it calcifies, leading to severely diminished returns; on the other hand, Jarmusch himself blows the Zen poetry of his signature style by uncharacteristically signposting everything and making all his points super-obvious so that mainstream critics can do think-pieces on them. For a film so concerned with aging and decay, it seems perverse to point out that the only real spark of life comes from Alexis Dzenia as the unimaginitively-monikered Lolita; everyone else is hanging around, weary from years of life and wondering if the early-bird special has started yet. Okay, I'm being cruel on that last point -- there are some typically Jarmusch-style parts that amuse (others have pointed out the cell-phone conversation between Murray and Jeffrey Wright, and I have to agree that it's funny as shit). Mostly, though, the film does something I've never seen before, though: it manages the difficult feat of being melancholy without being affecting at all.

Grade: C+


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