Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

I went to a geezer-free showing of this movie this morning. I've been hearing about it for a while--which is never a good sign. Usually when a studio drags its feet distributing a movie, it's an indication that something is wrong.

Still, it has a great cast and when I found out it was Rian Johnson's follow-up to Brick, I had to see it.

Unfortunately while Johnson nailed his update of the noir genre with Brick, the con man caper of The Brothers Bloom fell flat. It was flaccid and amorphous where it should have been sharp and taut.

Johnson appears to have watched every Wes Anderson movie ever made--twice. He should have spent the time watching and re-watching Newman and Redford in The Sting.

If you like quirk, The Brother Bloom has plenty of it. Mostly in the characters of Rachel Weisz's madcap heiress and Rinko Kikichu's explosives expert. Adrian Brody does his usual soulful shtick and Mark Ruffalo is more than capable as his older brother and puppetmaster. The film is filled with beautifully composed shots and character vignettes, but plot and character arcs pretty much fall by the wayside.

Johnson tries to communicate thematically the idea of an "unwritten life," but it never quite coalesces. The film is crammed with whimsical touches from a rhyming expository voiceover, neoclassical settings, random cameos, exotic locations but in flitting from one offbeat touch to the next, the movie becomes less than the sum of its parts.

My advice: for a far better Rian Johnson production, rent Brick. And if you're really hankering for a fun con man caper, check out The Sting.

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