Jim Jarmusch’s new film Broken Flowers starts out entertaining – with an intriguing premise and lackadaisical humour, but soon the faery-step pacing becomes too much, and arty minimalism turns to rather bland self indulgence.
I certainly hope Bill Murray isn’t gonna get stuck with the same role forever. After Rushmore, Lost in Translation and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou I’m starting to tire of his deadpan, world-weary lead characters. In some ways it sells Jarmusch’s film short, because we’ve seen this character before. It’s entirely possible he’ll end up like the Jack Nicholson of recent years, forever delivering fine performances, but each a carbon copy of the last. Murray’s character Don Johnston is surrounded by some fine actors (Julie Delpy, Tilda Swinton, Sharon Stone) in this film, though the variety of his ex-flames is a little hard to believe. Each one is so different from the last. Jeffrey Wright is bang on with his performance as Don’s neighbour Winston, and manages to skilfully interpret Jarmusch’s minimalist script – his scenes are a joy to watch.
The story itself is great, and I’m certain I would have appreciated this film more if it had moved at a slighter quicker pace. I loved Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, but Jarmusch seemed intent on halving the speed of that great movie with Broken Flowers. In Ghost Dog there were some wonderfully contemplative moments as Forrest Whittaker drove through the shadowy city streets, his speakers pumping hip hop. In Broken Flowers there are similar moments, but they simply seem tiresome. In fact we actually hear the same song several times throughout the film.
Jarmusch aficionados I’m sure will be impressed with his latest effort, but it takes a certain kind of viewer to be patient enough to enjoy Broken Flowers. I like to think I have a great attention span (as evidenced by sitting through the entire of The Cremaster Cycle) and have no problem with ambiguity, but Broken Flowers was just a little too much (or not enough).Rating: