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When a mysterious pink letter informs Don Johnston (Murray) that he may have a 19-year-old son, he visits four former lovers, where he comes face to face with the errors of his past and the possibilities of the future.
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Bill Murray is unquestionably the greatest actor of all time. Unquestionably. He plays it cool in this movie and isn't too over-the-top but that's okay; he's Bill Murray after all. His facial expressions alone say more than most pretentious, over-actor actors can ever express in an entire lifetime of movies. Yes, he's THAT good.
Overall, the movie is boring, insipid and uninspiring. The only reason to own it was the scene of the nubile Alexis Dziena in all her distaff glory....and Bil Murray's reaction when she comes parading out in the all together. For some perverse reason they cut that entire scene from the movie. No Sharon Stone...no Alexis Dziena...no Bill Murray reaction. They destroyed the movie.
Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2006
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
This may be one for the ages, for it shows Bill Murray, now aging but not aged enough not to be able to play a Casanova (Don Juan in this case-are the two the same?) who has fathered a child with one of his ex-girl-friends, but has no idea who that might be. He received a letter in a pink envelope, typed in pink letters, informing him that he has a 19-year-old son, who will soon show up at his door. After a brief scuffle with his present girl-friend, Sherry (Julie Delpy), who walks out of the door on him (just dropped in to say good-bye), he shows the letter to a friend of his, Winston, a wizard with computers (Johnston had made his money in computers himself), who soon finds out, from the names of former girl-friends given to him, where they are and by what means they can reached. He buys Johnston air tickets, rents cars for him, and gives him maps and detailed directions, and sends him on his odyssey to discover his son-through finding who of the women was the mother. He has to look for a pink typewriter.
Johnston first thinks this is all crazy, but he is compliant and, under his dead-pan façade, really curious, he embarks on his search. He looks worn out and uncurious, to begin with. But the surprises of his trip find even this stoic soul stunned. Holding a bouquet of pink roses, he starts knocking doors, looking for the four women. First, he finds Laura (Sharon Stone) in a shack somewhere in a remote neighborhood resembling a trailer park, and the first thing that comes to his attention is Sharon's teenage daughter, who comes to the door scantily dressed, lets him in, and tells him her name is Lo ... short for Lolita. "Lolita?" asks the amazed Johnston (even he is capable of shock)-and a moment later he ogles at her when she comes into the room, a cell phone stuck to her ear, completely naked. Soon Sharon arrives, she recognizes him, and tells him her husband had been killed in a race-track smash. She now works, arranging ... closets. But she is happy to see him, and, naturally, they sleep together. No pink typewriter though. Next morning, when he takes his leave, Lolita thinly clad in her undergarments, stands next to her mom, and waves goodbye as he drives away. The road has is compensations.
His next stop is at a prim housewife's suburban home, where Dora (Frances Conroy) receives him with a lukewarm smile, looking at him as if he were secretly deranged, but invites him in, and as soon as hubby, Ron (Christopher McDonald), arrives, Don is invited to and stays for dinner. They tell him are in real estate, but plan to go into gold, when the market slows down. Their dinner is bland and tasteless, but Johnson endures his passage through this Charybdis by forcing himself to swallow it. Dora has no children, and the couple imply they are content to look at each other. No result, however, can be obtained regarding the object of his search. The next stop marks the real comedy of such encounters, for he finds Carmen (Jessica Lange) busy with her clients-dogs mostly-for she is a canine therapist but who calls herself animal communicator. Before he sees Carmen, Johnston has ample time to sit on the couch outside the office, ogling at the receptionist's (Chloe Sevigny's) thighs, exposed to the absolute maximum, a torment to a still hormonal Don Juan who can't help looking at a tempting sight thrown in his direction. But Jessica is busy, her appointments with dog owners pile up on her, and she absolutely refuses to even have a cup of coffee with the intruder, no doubt thinking him crazy, unaware that she is crazier than him. She walks to her car, repeated refusing opportunities to talk. The receptionist sweeps her hips as she urges her to return to the office, and Johnston, despondent, drives away in his rented Taurus. He calls Winston soon and tells him he should be doing this in a rented Porsche.
Stoically, but visibly growing more anxious, he drives through a forest of tangled back roads, in search of the fourth woman in his list, Penny. He asks two menacing rednecks near a shed, where she might be, and they inform him she is inside, behind "the screen door." But when she sees him she screams at him, and they run to her rescue-and one of them lands a swift right in his left eye. Before he goes unconscious, he sees a pink typewriter a few feet away in the bushes, as if thrown there as a piece of junk. When he comes to, he finds himself in the mist of a plowed field, at the back of his car, his left eye black and blue, his brow swollen. He drives away wearily, stops at a flower shop to get to get another bouquet of flowers (which he has carried all along), and an obliging salesgirl gives him some things to band-aid his brow. Soon he flies back home. But wait, a young fellow (Mark Webber) follows him to his neighborhood, and Johnston, now really curious, and beaten up, offers the youngster, who seems hungry, a sandwich. After a brief talk that gets him nowhere, he tells the young man that he might be his father, and the youngster calls him crazy and runs away, like he has seen Don Juan in hell.
Johnston's search comes back full circle, with no results-except for his black eye. This may be the imagery Jarmusch was after. That, and the pink letter, the pink typewriter, and the pink flowers suggest a psychological turmoil that Johnsotn's dead-pan expression does not show. Why a pink letter? Who sent it? The answers are not given, and the movie remains open-ended, for there is no conclusion to the search, and Johnston's yearning for fatherhood remains unfulfilled. But the unstated message may be: what is fatherhood? Is it the desire to acquire a son whom one has never brought up-to accept him as a matter of conscience, or even mere curiosity? Johnston shows himself far from inhuman and behind his mask of apathy-he sits in front of his plasma TV, alone, at nights-there may be real paternal feelings stirring. But the movie, by remaining inconclusive regarding the search, may also be saying that he is reaping the rewards of his profligacy in his youth (or even in middle age), for, to him, women were an object of pleasure, not of real affection or kinship of spirit. What-who-is a Don Juan? History and legend-and opera and literature --show him as a man of conquests of literally thousands of women ("mille tre") who succumb to his inordinately sexual charisma. This, today, would appear as a travesty of humanity-just as the brief reference to Lolita (amoral creations by Nabokov/Kubrick) may indicate. Johnston is a nice enough fellow and sincere in his search for his son. But his final punishment is that he may have to spend the rest of his aging life in ignorance and isolation. Is that not some kind of hell? And, if I remember correctly, isn't pink one of the colorations that painters, poets, and other literati (not to mention religious writings) the color ascribed to hell's locations? Yes, yes, it's red, but pink comes close to it-uncomfortably so. Think of a pink hell. Whoever sent the letter devised a perfectly diabolical revenge.
I first saw this movie on Netflicks. I liked it so much that I bought it. That is something I don't do often. Bill Murray was great on SNL and I have followed his career ever since. This movie is a bit strange, and different for Bill. No gags, no silliness - a different dimension for Bill that is low key and underplayed but very, very entertaining. Not all will agree, but I think it's great. Just settle back and enjoy - it will grow on you if you let it.
I enjoyed this when I rented it, so decided to buy. It has been likened to "Lost in Translation". I agree with that somewhat in that it stars Bill Murray and has a quirky story line, but I didn't enjoy "Lost". "BrokenFlowers" stars Murray as the guy who seems to have everything: nice house, enough money, live-in girlfirend. So why does he sleep on the sofa and watch cartoons? He has a few issues, and the exasperated girlfriend leaves the same day he receives an anonymous pink letter telling him he has a grown son. With encouragement from his neighbor, he sets out on an odyessy to get in touch with each of the four women who are the possibilities, none of whom he has seen in 20 years. It has a lot of unexpected situations and some good dialogue, with Bill chasing down all the pink clues. I like Murray, so I was glad this was better than "Lost". I would dare to call it less a comedy and more a "dramedy", if you will. Some moments are laugh-out-loud funny, while at other times it is intensely serious. I thought everything about this film was well done, especially the direction. There are some interesting extras. Look for Tilda Swinton (I didn't recognize her). If you are a Bill Murray fan, I would recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 starsa fine film with a haunting theme ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 10, 2016
Bill Murray is about as laconic as you can be in this road movie about a man, Don Johnston, revisiting a number of girlfriends he had years before. The impulse behind the trip comes form an anonymous letter he receives telling him he has a son of 19 who has just set off to look for him. A neighbour called Winston then gets quite excited about the whole set of possibilities opening up, wanting to turn himself from factory worker into detective fiction writer, and goes as far as booking flights, hiring cars etc and presenting it as a fait accompli. Don is successful and living in some kind of vague retirement, really with nothing to do except go for coffee with Winston, who has a number of small children and whose household is as bursting with life as Don's is lacking, especially now his latest girlfriend has walked out. The film then becomes a gentle series of encounters with these women, each less successful than the last. All kinds of strange things happen, that have a certain magic and poise. The performances by Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton are marvels of quiet observation, the note being different in each one with regard to the meaning the past is given. The Conroy and Lange sections are particularly good ... but all of them have something unique and also distinctively seen through the lens of Jim Jarmusch. The film is dedicated to the memory of Jean Eustache, but it seems to me that Jarmusch has a lot in common with Eric Rohmer as well - something largely based in dialogue, with low-key connections buoying the audience along with some kind of magic in the way ordinariness is shown to be so un-ordinary. As others have said, the film denies the viewer a neatly resolved ending, so potential buyers need to bear that in mind. It's a bit like life - we never really get the complete picture, but Murray's persona is full of meaning, as absorbent and calm as a sponge.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 27, 2009
BrokenFlowers has a similar pace to Lost In Translation (so not one for action fans) and Bill Murry's character is similar in both movies. However there are big differences, in Lost In Translation Murry's character provokes empathy, while in BrokenFlowers his character evokes indifference and pity in equal measure.
All in all I enjoyed Lost In Translation, but I enjoyed BrokenFlowers even more. Bill Murry's dead pan subdued delivery allows the other characters and actors (colourful) performances to shine all the more.
If you can reveal in moments rather than in the films progression (it doesn't move fast or wrap things up at the end), then you will enjoy this movie.
This film will undoubtedly split people down the middle, some will find it painful to watch and shuffle in their seats or turn it off, while others will relish every moment.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 23, 2010
A former girlfriend recommended this film to me, after I had written a letter to her - and the film evoked lots of the emotions I felt when sending her the letter - a sense of lost opportunities, of melancholy at the passing of the years, but also a realisation that the past is not very accessible and can't be fixed. The structure is superb - we see the process by which the letter arrives through Don Johnston's letterbox and the way he is persuaded to revisit his former girlfriends. Each encounter is very plausible and they invite comparisons. Watching the film you get blasts of life - intrigue, spontanaiety, disappointment, comedy, reflection, tenderness and regret. A sensitive and intelligent film that builds to a very satisfying conclusion.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2018
Why BrokenFlowers? Dunno. Good film, especially for those now in their 70s who remember that famous decade and its irresponsibility. The usual non-ending - if there's a message there I missed it. Might provoke some viewers to play a little trick on aging lotharios among their friends.
1.0 out of 5 starsBad disk from whichever seller I used.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 17, 2019
DVD arrived in terrible condition. Disk skips and stops so much that this is unwatchable. Clearly no one has played this through to check it. The disk is scratched and the case has obviously been stepped on or something. Watched the film online instead. Irritated.