Broken Flowers makes the bar


The “less is more” theory is proven true in writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s, Broken Flowers.

Starring Bill Murray, Broken Flowers is similar to his last minimalistic, indie film, Lost in Translation, little dialogue and numerous instances of symbolic clues drive the story of a man on search of the son he never knew he had, which ultimately parallels the story of a man on search for himself.

Don Johnston (Bill Murray), an older man who made his living working with computers in a bachelors pad where he ironically does not have a computer of his own, finds himself alone after his young, attractive, live-in girlfriend leaves him. It is apparent that Don has lived a life of the ultimate bachelor, having difficulty holding onto one woman long enough to settle down.

After receiving a mysterious message in the mail, typewritten on notably pink stationary, stating that a past lover has been raising his illegitimate son for the last 19 years, it takes the enthusiasm of Don’s neighbor, Winston (Jeffery Wright), an ambitious amateur investigator of the World Wide Web and father of five, to encourage Don to search for the woman who had his child.

Winston graciously Googles the names and addresses of the potential exes (Due to the fact that Don does not have a computer of his own) and the reluctant Don leaves for his first encounter.

Laura (Sharon Stone) is a widow of a NASCAR driver and mother of the provocative 15-year-old, Lolita. Don appears on her front stoop with a bouquet of pink roses, and the three share a meal with a bottle of rose-colored white zinfandel. After spending the night with Laura, Don realizes there is no sign of a son, and parts on good terms with his old flame.

Don’s next stop takes him to his ex-hippie, now real-estate selling/Bree Van De Kamp of Desperate Housewives-esque ex, Nora (Frances Conroy). As listed on her pink business card, Nora is married to another real-estate salesman, Ron (Christopher McDonald), in an extremely routine and predictable marriage. Through Don and Nora’s interaction, we can see their relationship was quite the opposite. After an uncomfortable and intimidating dinner with the couple, Don again has no luck in uncovering the whereabouts of his son.

His third hope is the eccentric character Carmen (Jessica Lang), a pet psychic-excuse me, an animal communicator. In their brief meeting, Don inquires about Carmen’s personal life, as well as how she went from a power-driven law student to her current choice of profession. She leaves Don with ambiguous answers, though interaction between her and her attractive secretary, Chloe, allows the audience to infer that she has not had a son. Before Don leaves, Carmen does divulge that her cat had told her that he believed Don had “a hidden agenda.”

Slightly confused and still no close to finding the truth, Don moves on to his last option. The back-country, biker-babe, Penny (Tilda Swinton), is less than excited to see Don at her front stoop with a bouquet of pink wild flowers. Clues such as a pink motorcycle, a pink typewriter, and pink boots build anticipation, although after few answers and a lot of cursing,Don is still unsure.

Don returns home where an unexpected possibility arises. The mystery of who his son is or whether or not there even is a son has transformed from a fleeting thought to an all-consuming contemplation that forces Don to reconsider what his life could have been and what his life actually is.

With very little dialogue, a soundtrack of Ethiopian jazz and symbolic clues, this film leaves much of the plot up to the viewer. Thoughts and revelations are implied, but many are never blatantly stated. Broken Flowers is far from the past laugh-out-loud Bill Murray favorites from the past, but those who enjoy visually stimulating and thought-provoking films will find a unique and refreshing movie experience that asks for as much input from the audience as the film provides itself.




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