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Review: Broken Flowers

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Jim Jarmusch is a talented filmmaker, and if you like independent cinema his work should be familiar to you(Coffee and Cigarettes, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Stranger Than Paradise, and Dead Man to name a few). Broken Flowers is the newest Jarmusch film brought to you by Focus Features.

Bill Murray is Don Johnston—a regular, yet over-the-hill Don Juan. He made his money in computers, yet doesn’t own one of his own. His neighbor, Winston, is an aspiring Sam Spade with three jobs and five children. His girlfriends are numerous.

One day, a pink letter arrives with no return address, no signature, and an unreadable postmark. The red writing tells Don that a former girlfriend, with whom he hasn’t spoken to in 20 years, has a son—his son—who may be looking for him at that very moment.

Winston has Don list his girlfriends from that time so that he can organize a real-life investigation. Unenthusiastically, Don sets off—equipped with plane tickets, an itinerary, and maps to the women’s homes.

Don visits the women, armed with pink flowers, in an attempt to find clues and discover the identity of the mother of his supposed child.

Each woman proves to be interesting in very different ways. They definitely make you wonder at what might have been the initial attraction between Don and these former flings. And each woman has strange intricacies that lead you to believe that they might be the woman in question.

Broken Flowers, like much of Jarmusch’s work, is fun and maddening at the same time. It is more a glimpse at Don than any action. And it is, therefore, somewhat slow and boring. But the charm behind this film is in the details. Minimalist in its approach, the small things are truly what come to life.

Written for Bill Murray, it is no wonder that this silent comedian connects with Don. Every silent movement, every deadpan expression, every slight intonation is spot on in his delivery.

The cinematography is beautiful, thanks to Frederick Elmes (Kinsey, The Hulk, Eraserhead). Never lighting for glamorous results, there exists a quality to the film like that of a painting. Elmes shoots this film in a way that allows the roughness around the edges of each actor to show and make them all the more real. It’s a good combination to throw at editor Jay Rabinowitz (Requiem For A Dream), who really lets Jarmusch’s rhythm shine through.

Beginning with one question and ending with another, Broken Flowers is a film that makes you think. Check out the trailer and go see the movie.

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About Cara



    If this is the directors best then he should be the new poster boy for Crystal Meth prevention…. cuz…I’m thinkin he must have been on that during filming…


  • gill

    i see every movie ever made. broken flowers was fine until the ending. i don’t use big words like critics to make my point seem more intelligent( even though i could ).i know that the director thinks he’s making a statement by stopping the movie where he did.the fact is that, and i say this respectfully to any artist who puts his work out for judgement to the “masses”, somebody ruined parts of the film and it wasn’t deemed necessary to reshoot. beware to all fans on the next movie

  • Frank

    The movie is deliberately ambiguous, from start to finish. In order to understand it better, you really need to watch the bonus material included on the DVD.
    Jarmusch had all four principal actresses write a version of the initial pink letter (based on how their character would have written the letter), then incorporated aspects of all four letters so that each potential mother could have been “the one”. In the end, it appears, that none of them were, precisely, “the one.”
    Even the ending was delibertaley ambiguous with the young man running off after Don confronts him with the possible truth that he might be his son- further making you wonder if he was, in fact, the person mentioned in the letter, and adding to the ambiguity of the film.
    In the end, the main character, Don, is confronted, as are we all, with the same decision that we are forced to make on a daily basis: which road do we go down today?

  • rob

    what i don’t understand is that if he showed up to any of these ladies doors, wouldn’t “the one” know why he was there. “oh, you must have got the letter” Why the hell would he look for clues and shit.

    None of the people he visited wrote the letter to him.

    unless I missed a important detail to the story.