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The resolutely single Don (Bill Murray) has just been dumped by his latest lover, Sherry (Julie Delpy). Don yet again resigns himself to being alone and left to his own devices. Instead, he is compelled to reflect on his past when he receives a mysterious pink letter from an anonymous former lover and informs him that he has a 19-year-old son who may now be looking for his father. Don is urged to investigate this "mystery" by his friend and neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), an amateur sleuth and family man. Don reluctantly embarks on a cross-country trek in search of clues from four former flames (Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton). His unexpected visit to each of these women holds a new surprise for Don as he haphazardly confronts his past and, consequently, his present.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A little more conventional than most Jim Jarmusch films, except for the ending, Broken Flowers won the Grand Prix at Cannes (2005), and I suspect that was due to the resolutely minimalist, dryly humorous tone driven by Bill Murray's bleak performance as Don Johnston ('with a t') and the high class cast that surround him as his ex flames. Murray is so minimalist here that Jarmusch is in danger of making him a nonentity as a character. His reputation as a successful Don Juan is referred to, but the charm required to put such a rep together over the years is not shown.

Indeed, in the opening scenes, as his latest live-in girlfriend (Julie Delpy) leaves him in a confused state, Don can barely utter a non-plussed word. What - other than perhaps his oft-mentioned success in the computer business - did he have to offer these women? We can see what he can offer to us in front of the screen: beneath the muted performance are the quivering feelings of a man baffled by life, especially his own.

Murray's internalisation worked a treat in Lost in Translation as it cued his character perfectly. Here the character is a tad out of synch with Murray's style, although he still makes for an entertaining travelling companion in a downbeat sort of way. The road movie element borders on farce, but is too measured and controlled for that. But in his first encounter with his past, the film reaches its entertaining peak as Sharon Stone and her 16 year old daughter Lolita (a stunning cameo from Alexis Dziena) welcome him with open arms.

The other three encounters are less successful for Don - and also for Jarmusch. Although there is a recognisable veracity behind the scenes, they play stilted, but not always stilted enough to be effective as subversive comment. Jarmsuch doesn't seem to have figured out the plot in detail, so he relies on ambiguity and shoves the resolution back on his audience as some sort of moral riddle.

Enjoyable on one level but not quite the deeply satisfying film you might have expected, Broken Flowers is nevertheless filled with humour and some wonderfully observed - and performed - moments.

Published May 25, 2006

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(US, 2005)

CAST: Bill Murray, Frances Conroy, Julie Delpy, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, Heather Simms, Brea Frazier, Jeffrey Wright, Mark Webber, Cloe Sevigny, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Pell James

PRODUCER: Jim Jarmusch,

DIRECTOR: Jim Jarmusch

SCRIPT: Jim Jarmusch


EDITOR: Jay Rabinowitz

MUSIC: Mulatu Astatke (songs)


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2005


SPECIAL FEATURES: Additional scenes, international trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: May 18, 2006

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