Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hey, I paid for a whole movie! Give me my act three!

I paid good money last night and rented Broken Flowers .

I didn’t know what to expect apart from the fact I had heard it referred to as a “nice movie”. A nice movie was what I was in the mood for so I rented it. My rating: 2/10!

***Spoilers will follow***

It started off slowly, but in a way you could see was being used as a story telling tool. Here was a guy (Bill Murray) getting on in life with nothing to show for it except perhaps a comfortable existence due to previous success in the computing industry. We are left with the plot hook and how he will deal with it (on the instructions and insistence of a friend) early enough to see the slow pace of the film as acceptable and the possibility of it adding to the story.

The plot hook is that the same time his girlfriend/partner leaves him, he finds out that he has a 19 year old son by an old flame (through an anonymous letter), but he doesn’t know who sent it. Now that in itself opens up a box of exciting possibilities for a story, so we set off. Don Johnston (Murray) doesn’t seem to care. It seems his “ladies man” past is behind him and he doesn’t care too much about his current existence so why should he care about a long lost son? His (only?) friend and neighbour seems to add the only colour in his life and he pushes and pushes him into going on a quest to find these old flames and find his son. At this point we seem to be in Lost in Translation mode which was a fantastic film where the slow pace was in itself telling a story.

So Murray half heartedly embarks on his quest meeting up with his old flames. We see some full frontal female nudity from an old flame’s daughter for no reason I can work out other than to scare Murray out of the house to meet old flame number one (don’t know why that *had* to happen outside).

After meeting old flame number one I start to see a hole in the story. We have this dull man, sad with the way his life has turned out, but how on earth this guy could attract any woman yet alone the early 30 something that left him at the start is beyond me. At no point in time do we find out what he used to be like that could attract an endless stream of women. He carries on meeting the women on his list but nothing more is revealed. There is the possibility that he may have found the person who sent the letter, but we are left with just the possibility and no conclusion.

I can see where the writer/director attempted many profound moments and they all missed the mark by a mile apart from one when he visits the grave of one of the old flames, sits down in the rain and we see tears welling up in his eyes. We get the feeling of deep regret that their relationship ended. The problem is that I’m doubting this film so much by now that this can’t lift my expectations.

Murray ends his quest without resolution and he finds another letter written on the same paper with similar handwriting. It is from the 30 something at the start of the film (I think but I’ve lost interest by now) and suggests the whole idea of his son was made up by her, BUT it is left at just that; the idea that it may have been made up by her, nothing to confirm of deny it!

He meets up with someone who may be his son looking for him, but he runs away without us finding out for sure one way or the other.

At this point I figure we are at the end of act two and act three will reveal all and save the film. Then the film ends! No act three!


The end?

All I can think the writer/director was trying to leave us with was the fact that his life is dull and it is never going to be anything more than a dull mess, but like the rest of the film, we are never given confirmation of this!

I am trying to find a point in this film to justify the money I spent renting it... but I can't.

If I’m missing something about this film please let me know.

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