CORPORATE LINE: With BROKEN FLOWERS, staunchly independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch delivers one of his most pleasing, accessible pictures. Winner of the 2005 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, the film tells the story of Don Johnston (Bill Murray), a man overflowing with wealth but void of emotion. On the day that his most recent girlfriend (Julie Delpy) has given up on him for good, he learns, through an anonymous letter, that he might be the father of a 19-year-old boy. Spurned into action by his wannabe private eye neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), Don sets off on a personal journey to visit the former partners who may or may not have mothered his child. They include the flighty Laura (Sharon Stone), whose daughter Lolita (Alexis Dziena) certainly lives up to her name; the uptight Dora (Frances Conroy), who has settled into a sterile life with her chipper husband Ron (Christopher McDonald); the strangely distant Carmen (Jessica Lange), who makes a living as an “Animal Communicator;” and, finally, Penny (Tilda Swinton), a hard-edged biker who is the least happiest to see Don. Each confrontation leaves Don feeling more lost than the last, spinning him into an even greater state of apathetic confusion.
In typical Jarmusch fashion, he wrote the script for BROKEN FLOWERS with his casting firmly in mind; only Murray could play this role. The result showcases Murray’s brilliance as a less-is-more presence. Jarmusch also gives some of Hollywood’s most talented female actresses roles they can relish. A hundred percent Jarmusch, BROKEN FLOWERS is a wry, tender, and bittersweet portrait of a man who is drifting aimlessly through life.
THE SHOW: Broken Flowers has a fantastic cast—none better than Bill Murray. Some surprises are Sharon Stone and Tilda Swinton. The story isn’t great—even so it is definitely an acting clinic. The biggest issue with Broken Flowers and Bill Murray’s character is how overly familiar everything appears.
“The Farmhouse” and “Girls On The Bus” – A few short outtakes.
“Broken Flowers: Start to Finish” – Finds Bill Murray goofing around on the set.
The lack of a commentary by the cast or director is a real misstep.
FRANKLY: Broken Flowers is definitely an acquired taste. Even with its great cast the story has a tough time keeping the viewer interested. Most of Broken Flowers looks and feels like a retread of other Bill Murray vehicles.
+ Charlie Craine