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Broken Flowers


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#1 of 34 Mikel_Cooperman

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Posted August 08 2005 - 05:46 AM

Went to see this with several friends over the weekend after all the good reviews. Though Murray and the supporting cast does a good job, we left with an empty feeling. The question of the movie is never resolved and you leave wondering why have all these characters. All these situations and then not have it amount to a single thing.
I'd like to know if people who have seen it feel the same way we do.

#2 of 34 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 08 2005 - 06:17 AM

No, quite the opposite. It's hard to explain why without spoilers.

By "question of the movie", I assume you're referring to whether or not Don has a son and, if so, by whom. But to me that's a McGuffin. The real question is, what does Don have to show for his life and what does he do with the rest of it? The film doesn't take the sentimental route of providing an answer. Instead it lets you follow Don on the quest -- and trite but true, the quest is always more interesting.


In many ways, the film has the same arc as The Life Aquatic, but Jarmusch's minimalism strips away all the whimsy and decoration that Anderson can't resist (and which I enjoy, BTW). Don is the latest (and I think the best) of Bill Murray's portrayals of an older man looking back over his life and dejected by how little it seems to have amounted to. I bet that, if you counted Murray's lines in the film, there wouldn't be many. He conveys so much through tiny gestures (his visits to his neighbors' home are priceless) that words are almost unnecessary.

But I suspect your reaction won't be unusual. Especially if someone is expecting a Bill Murray comedy (even one as mild as Life Aqautic), the film's elegiac tone will be a disappointment. (Not that there aren't laughs, but they're more like counterpoint to the principal mood.) The film may have made the cover of Entertainment Weekly, but I never for a moment thought that Jarmusch would make a crowd-pleaser, and he hasn't.

In case it's not already clear, I loved it -- and that's coming from someone who isn't a big Jarmusch fan.

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#3 of 34 Mikel_Cooperman

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Posted August 08 2005 - 06:31 AM

I didn't really need it all spelled out or a sentimental ending just a resolution of some kind.

#4 of 34 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 08 2005 - 06:43 AM

Well, there is a theory proposed. And it's a plausible one, especially since:

None of the four women fits the description in the letter. So either it's a hoax, or Don forgot someone. Since it's hard to believe that someone from Don's past would resurface with such a huge revelation but leave out all the crucial identifying information, the hoax explanation is pretty appealing, and the film starts with a good candidate in Don's latest breakup.


I'd say the real resolution lies elsewhere:

Don ends up back home next door to Winston and his wife and kids. They're the closest thing he has to a family, and they're great people who clearly care for him.


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#5 of 34 Kain_C

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Posted August 08 2005 - 06:58 AM

I'm not a Jarmusch fan at all. And this film doesn't sound like it would appeal to me, especially with this no resolution stuff. I hate that sometimes.

#6 of 34 Brent Hutto

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Posted August 08 2005 - 07:01 AM

I'm avoiding spoilers but am I getting the drift of the discussion here being if we hated The Life Aquatic (tedious, dull, repetitive, depressing) we might not enjoy Broken Flowers? I've never seen a Jim Jarmusch movie and frankly they've never appealed much. I'd be going as much for Bill Murray as any other reason. FWIW, we love love loved Lost in Translation.

#7 of 34 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 08 2005 - 08:07 AM

Quote:
FWIW, we love love loved Lost in Translation.
Which I disliked. A lot. Go figure. Posted Image

I think that Life Aquatic, Broken Flowers and Lost in Translation have numerous common themes, but they're very different experiences as films. Broken Flowers does move at a leisurely pace, but that shouldn't be a problem for anyone who enjoyed Lost in Translation.

But as with all non-mainstream cinema, YMMV. There's a reason why films like these don't open on three thousand screens.

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#8 of 34 Brent Hutto

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Posted August 08 2005 - 08:11 AM

Yep, it hasn't opened yet on a screen within 100 miles of us but that's par for the course. I suspect we'll give it a shot when it shows up here in a couple months. It will no doubt beat getting desperate enough to go see Must Love Dogs or the like. Once a month or so it seems we just have to go to the multiplex on a night when the home theater doesn't cut it. It's surprisingly hard to find a movie worth 20 bucks or more.

#9 of 34 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 08 2005 - 08:46 AM

Quote:
It's surprisingly hard to find a movie worth 20 bucks or more.
I know the feeling, and this comes from someone who lives in a town that doesn't lack for options. I went to Broken Flowers on the theory that any movie with the following cast was likely to have at least something I'd like:

Bill Murray
Jeffrey Wright
Tilda Swinton
Jessica Lange
Frances Conroy
Sharon Stone (trust me; it's perfect casting)

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#10 of 34 Mikel_Cooperman

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Posted August 08 2005 - 09:54 AM

Quote:
I went to Broken Flowers on the theory that any movie with the following cast was likely to have at least something I'd like:

They were all great but not enough for me to recommend it and all of the supporting characters are on screen about 10 minutes each.

#11 of 34 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 08 2005 - 10:38 AM

Quote:
all of the supporting characters are on screen about 10 minutes each
Because the film is about Murray's character, and he's in every scene. The rest of the cast gives him a series of things to react to, and you need actors who can make a vivid impression with minimal screen time.

Quote:
not enough for me to recommend it
Yeah, I got that. Posted Image

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#12 of 34 Joel C

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Posted August 08 2005 - 11:19 AM

Saw this with a packed house in Chicago on Sunday. I heard some similar grumblings on the way out of the theater, but I had prety much figured by the halfway point it was going to end as it did.

I don't think this is a movie without a resolution, because it's an emotional journey, not a story with a detailed plot. Whether that bothers you or not is up for debate, but I don't really see that as a flaw since it was obviously the intention.

And really, what would a resolution do to change the movie? After his trip, it would be no less effective than the ending as is (i.e. "knowing" what happened instead of choosing between a few possible theories). Murray's character would still reach the same conclusion, in terms of character growth.
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#13 of 34 Jason Roer

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Posted August 08 2005 - 12:40 PM

I saw this last night with my wife and can say that I am somewhat surprised to hear talk of "no resolution".

While we certainly are not given the answer as to whom sent the letter, I felt we saw Bill Murray's character make a major change during the film. At the end he is looking, actively looking, for his son in any young man who passes him. It is clear to me at least, as it was to my wife, that he really wants to discover his son's identity. He wants his son in his life. He has become the man that his ex-girlfriend Sherry (played by Julie Delpy) wants him to become. And based on her letter at the end, I am left with the feeling that Don will get back with her and they might even have a deep and meaningful relationship.


But those are simply my thoughts - well, my wife's too. I thought this was an excellent film. Thoughtful, elegant, very witty. I agree the pacing might have been a touch slow for the majority of audiences and I am by no means under the illusion that this will become a blockbuster. But I think people should give it a chance. If only to see Bill at an all-time high in terms of his craft. He has absolutely nailed the ability to convey more than any words might allude to with just a twitch of his eye. He is a remarkable actor - this film should not be missed by anyone who has the slightest interest in acting. It is also simply a fun, thought provoking ride.

Cheers,

Jason

#14 of 34 Steve Felix

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Posted August 13 2005 - 04:00 PM

It is such a privilege to watch Murray work.

I also thought it was relatively resolved.

I think Sherry probably did send it, and he probably doesn't have a son. I can hardly think of anything more poignant than his discovery that he desperately wants one.

While the more heartwarming ideas proposed (his neighbors are his family, or a meaningful relationship is in his future) are valid, the film itself doesn't nod to them with that final bleak pan around.

On the other hand, the prophetic line in the flower shop, "So if I continue down this path, I'll end up in the cemetary?" suggests that his arc in the film takes him off that path and onto living his life. Jarmusch just doesn't tonally go there.


Either this is a great year for movies or I'm just getting better at seeing only the good ones.
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#15 of 34 todd s

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Posted August 13 2005 - 04:26 PM

Saw it with some friends. Didn't care for the ending at all. And from the grumblings at the theater most didn't either.
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#16 of 34 Michael Reuben

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Posted August 13 2005 - 04:33 PM

Quote from Steve Felix:

While the more heartwarming ideas proposed (his neighbors are his family, or a meaningful relationship is in his future) are valid, the film itself doesn't nod to them with that final bleak pan around.


I probably overstated it above when I suggested that the italicized element in the quote above was a "resolution". It's more a possibility -- something we see quite clearly but that Don may now see differently.

Also, I'm not sure I'd describe that final shot as "bleak".

To me it was more open-ended, as if to say, "Look around -- what will you do now?"


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#17 of 34 Jason Roer

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Posted August 14 2005 - 01:19 AM

Agreed Reuben.

I also didn't think the last shot was "bleak". I thought it was hopeful.

As I said earlier, it was clear to me he was longing to find his son. Whether or not he actually has a son is irrelevant, just that Don had made such a significant change in his life. And again, I thought this is where the resolution to film came. The main character has become a new man.


The more I think about this movie, the more I love it. I wouldn't want to know everything. This lets me participate in post-film speculation with my wife and friends who have seen the film. And as I stated before there is definite resolution with the character, and thus a very satisying experience for me.

Cheers,

Jason

#18 of 34 todd s

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Posted August 14 2005 - 01:35 AM

Was anyone shocked...
When Lolita came out naked? I mean she was hot. But, you had a creepy feeling because she was only supposed to be in her early teens.

Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#19 of 34 Jake Yenor

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Posted August 14 2005 - 02:57 AM

I want to see this film very badly. Sadly it is not playing anywhere near me. Does anyone know if this is expected to get a wide release?

#20 of 34 Mikel_Cooperman

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Posted August 15 2005 - 05:44 AM

Quote:
I also thought it was relatively resolved.

Relatively. Supposedly. Possibly.


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