Broken Flowers
I’m sorry, it’s just that I’m not ready to be in a relationship with a werewolf.

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NOMINEE: Original Screenplay (Jim Jarmusch)

Theatrical Release Date: 08/05/2005
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright

In a cinematic landscape full of movie stars and pretentious wannabes, Bill Murray continues to deliver flawed, vulnerable, and yet, endearing characters. He is a breath of fresh air in a stagnant cesspool of remakes and hack films. In writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers”, Murray once again delivers a top-notch performance worthy of notice and award consideration.

In the film, Murray plays Don, a man who has had his share of success in both business and women. Upon receiving an anonymous letter explaining that he has a son, Don (Johnston, not Juan), embarks on a journey to find out which of his old flames is the mother and along the way, tries to find out where he is headed in life.

Don is helped and prodded on his way by his next-door neighbor, Winston, played by Jeffrey Wright. Winston fancies himself a bit of a detective and sets the itinerary that Don is to follow, proceeding from one former relationship to another. Tilda Swinton, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy and Sharon Stone play the four women and each bring a unique energy to the film.

As is Jarmusch’s motis operandi, the film feels like a collection of vignettes. While the story is woven together very well, each visit to a past love is sort of like watching a different short film, due in part to the vast difference in each woman from Don’s past. This process works well, creating a sense of time and distance for the audience. And the way Jarmusch segways from encounter to encounter helps you empathize with what Don is going through. More than once, during a shot of Don on a plane or driving to and from his impromptu reunions, I reminisced over similar situations in my own life.

Everyone in the film delivers a quality performance, especially Murray and Wright. There were quite a few similarities in Murray’s character here and the one he portrayed in “Lost in Translation”. Murray has a gift for portraying people looking for a sense of direction or purpose in life. Even his performance in last year’s “The Life Aquatic” had the same underlying motivation.

And though they all seem to be shades of the same person, I would welcome more of the same. Like many of the latest Murray endeavors, this film has some quality comedic moments, but the comedy derives naturally from the characters and situations. It’s not a gimmick or cheap gag that is created just to force a laugh.

“Broken Flowers” is an introspective look at what it means to have life pass you by before you know it. Much like “Lost in Translation”, this film is not as much of a comedy as people may think. But it too is a film that’s worth your time and money.

If you’re looking for an escape from life, go see some Hollywood film about a boy finding the girl of his dreams. If you want a frank, simple look at a man trying to take stock of his life, go out and see “Broken Flowers.” A 3 out of 5, you may want to save that six-pack until afterwards, to comfort you while you decide if you’re on the right path in life.