the brothers bloom

June 13, 2009

“as far as con man stories go…..i think i’ve heard them all.”

an inherent problem i think with con man movies is that now the audience has seen too much.  we know that the guy we were supposed to never expect is the one that did it.  we know all the tricks in the book.  we know that it’s kevin spacey.  we know.

so what makes the first half (the first half or so, i’m not sure where the turning point was) of brothers bloom so great is that it wasn’t about the cons at all.  it was about the characters who just so happened to be great con artists.  and they’re great characters!  i love that adrien brody (bloom)  is a con man of regret, that he feels he’s lived a fake life.  i love that mark ruffalo (stephen) writes cons in a literary sense, that he pulls narrative structure into his cons to bring them to life.  i love that stephen writes bloom as the central figures of all his cons.  i love rinko kikuchi.  and i love that her character’s name is bang bang.

the film starts out with so much gusto.  we are at the beginnings of the brothers bloom career, when they’re kids.  the editing is quick, the camera movements are fast, and the dialogue is witty and snappy.  then were moved right into one of the greatest title sequences i can remember.  the brothers bloom in gigantic letters of lights, exploding with a great swell of music.  this lets us know that we are in for a ride.

rian johnson made one of my favorite movies in recent memory with 2006’s brick.  he was able to infuse a great amount of style, with a wonderfully written script, and meld it with tremendous performances.  and one of the things i loved about brick was that he was able to take a very gritty and serious noir story, set it in high school, make it work, and not shy away from humorous situations.  he has a hard boiled detective story, and is able to inflect humor into it.  and in the brothers bloom he has a humorous film which he tries to inflect some serious moments in…….and it doesn’t work as well.

the film works best when it’s just trying to be a, more or less, lighthearted con man film.  with his patented quick and witty dialogue and quirky characters, the first part of the film is amazing.  i wanted to spend all the time in the world with these characters and go on adventures with them.

and we loose this sense of fun that the film has, as it goes on.  there came a point near the 3/4’s part of the film where i sort of stepped back and said “wait…what happened?”.  i wasn’t confused by what i had seen plot wise, but was confused as to how the film i had loved so much, how the film that had swept me up like nothing up to that point this year had swept me up, how this film could have turned so sharply into something that felt like a chore to sit through.  it just completely lost all of the gusto that it once so magnificently had started with.

so the film is an odd mix.  at times it’s the most fun you’ll have in the theater all year, and at times it’s close to the worst (well maybe not the worst, but it’s certainly not as good as those fun times i spoke about earlier).  rian johnson still excites me enough to go out opening night to see whatever he puts out there, and i hope he continues to infuse his films with as much style and humor as his first two.

oh wow.  i almost forgot.  mark ruffalo, adrian brody, rachel weisz, and rinko kikuchi all absolutely brilliant.  especially ruffalo.  i want to see him more in leading roles.  the man is brilliant.  and i wanted to own every single outfit that ruffalo and brody wore.  every single one.

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One Response to “the brothers bloom”

  1. mcarteratthemovies Says:

    I LOVED “The Brothers Bloom”! Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo are spectacular together, and Rachel Weisz is great as always. And I think I’ve become a Rinko Kikuchi fan for sure. Why more people don’t go out and support inventive movies like this is a mystery to me.

    M. Carter at the Movies
    http://mcarteratthemovies.wordpress.com/


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