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jeudi, septembre 08, 2005

Movie review : Broken Flowers

Broken Flowers
Jim Jarmusch, 2005

Its been seven years since Jim Jarmusch delivered an original movie, Ghost Dog. His last effort, Coffee and cigarettes was more of a combination of old and new black and white sketches. Awarded at the last Cannes film festival, Broken Flowers is a re-tale of the Don Juan myth, mixed with Charles Dickenses Scrooge. Much like Dead man and Ghost dog's fashion, Jim Jarmusch takes us on a man's journey to find his own self. Down in his fifties dump, the main protagonist, played by Bill Murray (who had a cameo part in Coffee...), is some kind of an aged womanizer bachelor. Left alone by his latest girlfriend Sherry, Don Johnston (with a T, a name which is a double reference to Don Juan and Don Johnson's "Tell it like it is" image) receives an unsigned letter that says hes an unwanted father. Realising his life is more than dull and lonely, he goes after the woman he left pregnant twenty years ago. Along the way, he's helped by his Sganarelle's turned black, funny and loving neighbor Winston.

Henceforth, Broken Flowers enters the genre of the Road movie. But its not about the old west formula this time. Each encounter with a former girlfriend gives the frame to a kind of sketch, an approach reminiscent of Jarmusch past works such as Night on earth or Coffee and cigarettes. And we have two of these women who still carry the rags of a long lost era, the sixties, where everyone was told that sexual freedom was the next big thing. So, in a very subtle way, the movie deals very much with the leftovers and inheritance of the last decades, concerning sexual and companionship freedom. One of Don's dead former lover, Michelle, has an "To my sister and daughter" engravement on her tomb, indicating that she had no children or man at the time she died, even maybe because of Don's ways.

As a true romantic but undecided, desillusioned and getting old character, Bill Murray's Don could be Bob's cousin, from Sofia Coppola's Lost in translation. In fact Broken Flowers is pretty much a new chapter of the all around artistic recognition of Bill Murray's acting superpowers. Coming from the Saturday Night Live's nest, he took movie parts in a lot of popular comedies, such as Meatballs or Ghostbusters 1&2 in the eighties. But its only his 2003 performance as an has-been actor in Lost in translation that got him a late and guilty recognition. Since, its been a following of great dramatic, bittersweet performances, in Wes Anderson's Life aquatic, Jarmusch's Coffee and cigarettes and now Broken Flowers. And though the film is fine, along with a subtle message and filled with subtle humor, it doesnt match the artistry put in the forecited movies. To me, the Cannes film festival award acts as a guilty one. Because the way its done, acted, or its insightfulness, isnt unforgettable.

I dont especially like happy, "the viewer is an idiot" endings. But i felt quite robbed when the ending credits rolled. To me, the movie lacks some sense of closure, as the audience is left wondering "Ok, but what ?", "Whats going to happen now ?", "What was the purpose of the journey ?". In Don Juan, the character is cruel and dies of an horrible, instant death. Here, Don is more of a true but undecided romantic, in love with the woman concept. His sentence is loneliness. But even that is counterbalanced by the fact that Sherry, his young girlfriend, is said to come back in his life. In the end, Broken Flowers is quite a good bittersweet drama, quite insightful, but i still wonder on what basis the movie got this award.

Sylvain Thuret

2 Comments:

  • Y a pas le même en french please ??

    By Blogger L'abeille, at 12:28 AM  

  • Désolé Madame l'Abeille, je n'ai pas encore décidé si oui ou non j'allais doubler mes textes en anglais d'une traduction française.
    Mais j'y pense !

    Sylvain

    By Blogger Cinémédias, at 11:06 PM  

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