Broken Flowers | Directed by Jim Jarmusch | Release Date: 2005 | Rating: R | Run Time: 1hr and 46min
Broken Flowers is my first encounter with director Jim Jarmusch and I realize that I’ve been sorely missing out. Be prepared for more Jarmusch movie reviews in the future, as I delve into his oeuvre. I found a few more of his films on Netflix.
The film stars Bill Murray as Don Johnston, an old, detached, and lonely Don Juan-esque character (hence the name). A self-proclaimed bachelor, Don shows no remorse, as if desensitized from repetition of experience, when his current girlfriend walks out on him. He then discovers a letter written on pink paper, in a pink envelope. The letter is mysteriously unsigned and informs Don of an unknown 19-year-old son who may be looking for him. Don is then convinced by his aspiring sleuth neighbor, Winston, to visit old lovers who may be his the mother of his son.
Don begins his journey, but instead of he discovering the identity of his son and mother, Don discovers pieces of himself. With each visit, Don rediscovers a part of his past and is confronted with the passivity of his current reality. It’s heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. Murray’s stoic, deadpan demeanor works seamlessly to create an atmosphere that is at once depressing and comical.
Murray’s performance is outstanding and is reinforced through stellar appearances by Tilda Swinton, Jessica Lange, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, and Chloe Sevigny (what a cast!). As Joshua Tyler from CinemaBlend notes, Broken Flowers seems to be the third film in Bill Murray’s loneliness trilogy. Long gone are the Murray of Caddyshack and Ghostbusters. We now have an emotionless Murray who delivers his lines, comical and serious, with a deadpan gaze that is characteristic of the disillusioned men he plays in Broken Flowers, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Lost in Translation.
Broken Flowers is filled with tons of references, such as Lolita, the daughter of Don’s old lover, Laura, who brazenly walks around naked in Don’s presence. Don refers to Winston, his amateur detective neighbor as Dolemite. And the most obvious reference is the similarity between Don Johnston’s name to Don Juan’s, which many of the characters comment on throughout the film.
For Broken Flowers it truly is about the journey, not the end. Don’t expect this film to neatly pack things up. Don is still the disillusioned man we meet in the beginning, with only more insight into his lonely existence. Jarmusch intertwines humor with a realistic and introspective look at the lonely life of an old bachelor.