Broken Flowers (2005)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Road Movie  |   Release Date - Aug 5, 2005 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - France , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Perry Seibert

By this point in his career, Bill Murray had become remarkably adept at playing characters who use coldness and deadpan humor to keep the world at bay, while offering glimpses of the pain underneath the mask of indifference. In Lost in Translation and his collaborations with Wes Anderson, the characters Murray played ended up revealing themselves in small physical gestures, vocal tics, or in subtle facial expressions. This ability to invest a seemingly emotionally dead person with sudden depth makes him the ideal actor to collaborate with Jim Jarmusch. The best Jarmusch films include a protagonist who sees the world in the same still, deadpan way Jarmusch's camera does, and Don Johnston is one of those characters. A womanizer too bored with himself to put up much of a fight when his current girlfriend walks out on him, Murray drains all bathos from Johnston's depression and lassitude. The character begins unlikable and the actor never once attempts to win the audience's sympathy. However, while reading aloud the anonymous note that informs him that he is a father, Don's voice catches just once. And in that superb moment, Murray reveals the depth of feelings that the character has locked away. That moment allows the rest of the film to resonate on a much deeper level than it would appear to on the surface. The final stop on his journey, at the gravesite of a former girlfriend, should provide a melodramatic moment of near operatic sadness and emotion, but the stillness of Murray and Jarmusch's art leaves the viewer just as devastated as if Don wailed to the heavens. The duo understands how to invest the smallest moments and gestures with profound depth and feeling. Broken Flowers is one of the best films of either of their careers.