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Broken Flowers - Review

Bill Murray in Broken Flowers

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Girls In The Bus Extended Scene; Broken Flowers Start To Finish Outtakes With Bill Murray; Farmhouse Behind The Scene With Jim Jarmusch Commentary; Trailers.

BILL Murray gives yet another wonderfully understated performance in Jim Jarmusch’s bittersweet Broken Flowers but the film itself remains an acquired taste.

Murray stars as Don Johnston (not Mr Miami Vice), an ageing Don Juan, whose latest lover (Julie Delpy) is in the process of moving out having become frustrated by his inability to commit.

As if by coincidence, a letter arrives at the same time from an old flame informing him that he may soon be visited by his son – a child he never knew existed until now.

The letter is unsigned but thanks to the persistence of his Ethiopian neighbour, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), Don is persuaded to investigate which of his exes may have sent it.

As a result, he revisits his former flames, taking in a racing widow played by Sharon Stone, whose provocative daughter, Lolita, more than lives up to her name, an ex-hippie (Frances Conroy), an ‘animal communicator’ (Jessica Lange) and an angry biker chick (Tilda Swinton).

But while very few of the visits help Don in his quest, each forces him to confront his own insecurities and the remorse he has come to feel for his life of isolated loneliness.

This being a Jarmusch film, though, audiences are expected to be very patient, relying on looks and what’s not said to convey a deeper meaning, while being forced to contend with numerous shots of Murray driving or sitting on a sofa in contemplation.

The ending is also deliberately ambiguous offering no real conclusion and a sadness that becomes haunting.

The film remains worth seeing, however, for Murray alone, whose melancholic performance continues to build on the excellent work he has done in Lost in Translation and The Life Aquatic (both of which bear uncanny similarities in terms of character).

The rest of the cast also shines in limited doses, with Stone and Wright particularly good and injecting some much needed humour.

But the shortness of their screen-time does lend itself to the feeling that had Jarmusch given them more to do and cut back on the scenes of Murray just staring at a TV screen or driving, this may have been a more rewarding emotional experience.

Broken Flowers is, therefore, an intriguing experience that is likely to be loved and loathed in equal measure.