Thursday, January 05, 2006

Broken Flowers

Dead Flowers, Inc.
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Length: 106 min.
Format: DVD
Date Viewed: 4 January

Is Bill Murray playing himself in his latest series of films with Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola and now Jim Jarmusch? It almost feels like he is putting his own pain gained in his own mid-life crisis onto the screen as opposed to playing a man in a mid-life crisis. Whichever it may be, nobody does it as honestly, effectively or painfully as Murray, and this is perhaps his most painful role to date. Whether or not Murray's Don Johnston (an obvious Anglicizing of Don Juan) has a son or the pink letter was a fake, though it takes up immeasurable space on web boards, is moot; the entire plot point is a McGuffin. The journey Don takes, and the crossroads it leads him to is the important thing. Little is found, and that's what makes the whole thing so realistic. Revisiting ex-girlfriends is not easy, speaking from experience. Sometimes there is unbearable tension, like in the dinner scene with Dawn and her husband, and other times there is sadness and regret, like Don has with Michelle when he visits her grave, and sometimes the ex is still lusting after you, like with Laura. Though the script often gets a hair's width away from condescending the female characters, it always manages to stay on the side of embracing their personality quirks, and the film is stronger for it. The film, like all of Jarmusch's films, is almost always a little heavy, but welcome comic relief comes with Jeffrey Wright's character, Winston, who is excellent as the amatuer detective and serves as Don's temptation. This isn't Jarmusch's best, but it's still an effective film and is well worth a rental.


Anonymous Kram said...

That's a great review, K-Man - very well written. I agree with all your points, and you brought to light some I hadn't considered.

You use "pain" about a hundred times in the first few sentences, so I hope people realize it's still an enjoyable, contemplative film. ;)

05 January, 2006 10:02  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Thanks, Mark. Yeah, I guess a caveat is in order. Bill Murray's performance is filled with pain, but the film itself is lighter and, despite its central character, optimistic.

05 January, 2006 10:19  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Lighter than Murray's character, that is.

05 January, 2006 12:56  

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