Movie of the Day – Broken Flowers

Bill Murray is the man.  There is no debate about this as it is a fact.  Sure the man has made a couple of movies that were horrible, Osmosis Jones anyone?  When you take a look at the mans filmography, there is no denying that he is an artist and one of the best.  Who doesn’t get excited when a movie you are excited has Bill Murray as part of the cast?  What I like most about his films are the ones where he plays a more subtle and subdued character.  He doesn’t need to be loud, comedic or even the center of attention, rather the films where is not the Bill Murray we associate with in past film are some of his best roles.  So Broken Flowers, a film by auteur Jim Jarmusch, is the perfect compliment of subtle directing with skillful acting.

A man sets out to find the son he didn’t know he had and winds up getting answers to some questions he never asked in this comedy drama from director Jim Jarmusch. Don Johnston (Bill Murray) is an emotionally blank middle-aged man who has never married and lives a quiet, comfortable life thanks to shrewd investments in computers (though he doesn’t use one himself). After being given his walking papers by his latest girlfriend, Sherry (Julie Delpy), Don receives an anonymous letter informing him he fathered a son 19 years ago, and that the boy wants to find his dad. Not sure what to do, Don shows the note to Winston (Jeffrey Wright), a neighbor who fancies himself an amateur detective. With Winston’s help, Don narrows the list of possible mothers down to four women, and with a mixture of reluctance and resigned determination he sets out to find them. Armed with a CD of traveling music from Winston, Don pays unannounced visits to Laura (Sharon Stone), an oversexed widow with a libidinous teenage daughter (Alexis Dziena); Dora (Frances Conroy), a stuffy real estate agent; Penny (Tilda Swinton), an aging biker with no happy memories of Don; and Carmen (Jessica Lange), a self-styled analyst for pets whose outward eccentricity disguises a firm inner stability. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

I will admit, this movie took a while to grow on me.  My first initial reaction to the movie was moot and generally defensive about it.  I have seen a lot of Jarmusch’s films, but something about this seemed distant upon first viewing.  As a whole, the film is a series of vignettes that our intrepid lothario goes through.  He is curious about his past loves and trying to find something, a son, from out of the rubble of all the women Bill Murray has romanced and sexed over the years.  It’s the stringing together of the encounters that might make it seem a bit disjointed in terms of having a fulfilling plot and story.  There isn’t a lot of resolution, or enough of one to make you enjoy it, but that is the aim of the film.

Broken Flowers is more of a study of the little things that happen in our lives.  The people we meet, the people we love or the people we hurt all come together for one man.  Each past love he encounters is at a certain crossroad in their life, even so much so that you can piece together Don’s current state of mind when he dated each woman.  Each represent a piece of his life that is left behind and those encounters only act as a mirror to his life and what he has done.  They aren’t terrible things mind you, just memories and action that defined him as a person.  The sort of things that might make you wander through life aimlessly and question the past.

It is the small encounters of the past women and Don’s introspective nature that shapes and frames the film in a more insightful manner.  It’s about drudging up the past as a mirror to your life, perhaps giving you a better understanding of who you are.  Even though the goal of the film is to find out who his son is or even whom the son belongs to, isn’t even really final or concluded.  Don is a womanizer and while he left them without an answer to the why, his past and encounters give him no closure.  Much like the women he has left, they too leave him with nothing but questions.  I think repeat viewing of the movie is best, if only to let the discussions and questions sink in after a while.

*images via RottenTomatoes

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

4 Responses to Movie of the Day – Broken Flowers

  1. rochpikey says:

    It is nice to see Bill Murray take on some slightly more serious or dramatic roles. Just saw him in “Get Low” alongside Robert Duvall and they we spectacular together! I also can’t wait to see him with Bruce Willis and Edward Norton in Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”

    • Nick says:

      I love Get Low. Nice film mention, now I have to go watch that. For me I love seeing Bill Murray play a more subdued comedic role that isn’t so in your face or obvious. His Wes Anderson roles are phenomenal and the highlight of his career for me. Moonrise Kingdom is on my eager to see list for summer movies.

  2. I love Bill Murray but had a hard time getting into this one. In fact, I have a hard time with the first viewing of all the Jarmusch films I’ve seen, so I guess I should give this one another shot.

    • Nick says:

      Jim Jamursch films are always difficult to really enjoy upon first viewing. Even for his more accessible film like Ghost Dog, which had a action lean, the film was more an introspective film about the nature of a killer with a code. Still repeat viewings helped me enjoy it more.

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