Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

Broken Flowers

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on July 24, 2014 at 11:40 PM


Jim Jarmusch



IDEA:  The aptly named Don Johnston, an aging and taciturn former ladies' man, receives an anonymous letter in the mail informing him he's the father of a 19-year-old son. Spurred on by his enthusiastic neighbor, he travels the country, visiting the four past girlfriends who may have sent that letter.

BLURB:  The only certainty in Broken Flowers, Jim Jarmusch’s marvelously droll study of late-life arrest, is that nothing is certain. Bill Murray’s Don Johnston figures this out in the director’s characteristically laconic fashion: amongst coolly curated spaces and inscrutable past flames, he partakes in a domestic odyssey that only curves, elliptically, to reveal question marks proceeded by telling silences. The answers are always out of reach, the guarantees stymied by the possibility, however farfetched, of yet more possibilities. Everything adds up to nothing, which is also, maybe, something. The film’s brand of nihilism is enlivened by humor and pathos, Jarmusch’s observations on ponderous notions – of impossible communication, of cosmic indifference, of chaos theory and karma – filtered through a pithy awareness of how simultaneously terrifying and archly funny those concepts can be. Where he looks, we look, and where he teases the suggestion of something important, we are inclined to go along with it, forming connections in our head that may or may not actually be there. Who can’t relate? Broken Flowers is about the perpetual questioning of probabilities, of seeing things and wondering if, how, or when they may pertain to you. That we might never know for sure is certain.

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