The Good

Bill Murray and Jeffrey Wright head what is one of the finest films of 2005.

The Bad

This is the last one of these kinds of roles Bill Murray should do.

Broken Flowers was movie that I missed in the theater and I probably should not have. As a huge Jim Jarmusch fan, it is films like this I feel need my fullest support in the marketplace. Sadly, I just didn’t get around to going to the theater and by the time I had the time, the film’s theatrical run had passed me by. The movie did do $40 million worldwide and this should allow Jim Jarmusch to continue to have the freedom he needs to make his movies.

The premise of this tale is simple, Bill Murray plays a man who has a past with women. Having done well for himself in the computer market, he seems to spend his days in hip workout outfits watching TV. When he gets an anonymous letter from a woman claiming that she mothered a son of his, and now his child is going to be searching for him in the hopes of finding his father, Murray’s character, Don Johnston, seems like he would rather pull down the shades and hide in his home. Goaded by his friend Winston (the always good Jeffrey Wright), Don sets off on a trip to meet up with the 4 women who could have possibly sent him the letter. Lets just say, nothing and everything happens like how one might expect it to, and when this film is over not a lot is really resolved.

Jim Jarmusch is after something when he makes a movie. He doesn’t really articulate it, he doesn’t go out of his way to make the viewer understand it, he just presents the situation and that is that. I don’t think Jarmusch is being coy or overly cerebral. I think he is a filmmaker of moments, and while he connects them in a cursory sense, he never sets about explaining anything too much. As a result, his films can feel detached when they are merely looking for room to breathe.

Features

Girls on the Bus

This is an extended scene of some girls that Don Johnston sees on the bus. I think these girls were improving and while I think what they said was pretty right on, I am glad that Jarmusch reigned them in in a more subtle way for the actual movie. Whenever you are shooting a scene like this, it is good to let the actors go with the material, but Jarmusch thankfully didn’t let them get out of hand in the final cut.

Making Of

This is actually one of the more innovative “making of” pieces I have ever screened. It essentially takes us through the entire movie, yet everything is sped up, and we orient ourselves by the constant clapboard that calls “action” on the scenes. We also get to see some atypical “behind the scenes” moments that take place before and after the actual scenes being shot. To be honest, I should have expected nothing less from a Jim Jarmusch movie and DVD.

Farmhouse

This is an interesting breakdown of a scene. We see it being set up in a “behind the scenes” way, but then we hear Jarmusch talking over it and answering questions it seems. Shot in a bunch of different styles, this was a very interesting way to get the point of what he is looking for in his scenes across. It doesn’t feel forced or canned but then again nothing Jarmusch does ever really feels that way.

Video

Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.78:1. Very little camera tricks used here. I always get the sense that Jarmusch just shows up, assembles his actors and doesn’t really mess with the footage he captures in editing. This film is quiet in the sense that the scenes don’t overtly go anywhere. Things happen and you’re able to follow the story, but there’s never a moment where anything is decided and we get the feeling that this is how it’s going to be for the rest of the movie. Told in a pretty classical style, Broken Flowers unfolds like a trip down memory lane.

Audio

English Dolby Digital - 5.1. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. Like the naturalistic look of the movie, the sound has not been effected either. It doesn’t take us inside the characters heads, it isn’t drawn out, it’s just there. Now, the soundtrack music for this film is a whole other story. Since it’s delivered to us as road trip music, created by Winston for Don’s trip, it has the sound and vivaciousness of a man who is alive. It contrasts nicely with Murray’s almost drab demeanor, and something tells me that the soundtrack for this film is something I should pick up.

Package

On the front cover, Murray stands holding pink flowers as he visits the first person on his 4 person list. It is a great metaphor for not only what is in store for this character, but what we have to look forward to as viewers. The back cover photo of Murray seems like it was borrowed from Lost In Translation. There is a description of this movie, a critics quote from A.O. Scott, a “Special Features” listing, some more shots of the other main characters in the film, a cast list and some technical specs. While not the most amazing cover I have ever seen, something tells me this movie will end up in the Criterion Collection.

Final Word

Bill Murray,

I think you are a fine actor but this should be the end of these kinds of roles for you. The quiet person reacting to the world around them was fine in Lost In Translation, and it’s even fine here, but I really think you will compromise the character you are playing if you do this kind of role anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I liked both of those movies a lot, but would it kill you to do a comedy in the vein of Stripes? While I was one of the people who liked The Ice Harvest, I think that your buddy Harold Ramis could really use you. If you two do get together again, don’t spend too much time analyzing the screenplay, comedy or anything else. Just sit down and start writing.

I am sure that it will come to you.

Best,

Evan “Mushy” Jacobs

Broken Flowers was released August 5, 2005.