The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Posts Tagged ‘Rinko Kikuchi

Hermit Cinema: The Brothers Bloom

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Judging from Rian Johnson’s remarkable directorial debut, Brick, this was a newcomer worth paying attention to. That movie showed a truly original vision and approach, creating a new take on the Noir-genre picture set in a suburban high school of all places. Here he sets his sights just as high, if not higher considering that this picture is loaded with heavy Hollywood talent.

Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and his younger brother Bloom (Adrien Brody) are world-class grifters, aided by their mysterious, silent accomplice Bang Bang (Rinko Kukuchi). Penelope (Rachel Weisz), a sheltered heiress and recluse, is their mark. In fact, she is to be their last as con after con, Bloom swears it’s his last time. Bloom yearns to live a life of substance as opposed to a role in a deception.

The movie’s excellent opening sequence explains their history, their bond and their discovery of their gift for graft. It also plants the seeds of the brothers’ differences. It’s a truly impressive opening to a movie, and unfortunately, from there the movie slowly loses cohesion.

Cut to present day. The Brothers Bloom, as they’re known, travel the globe as they pull off elaborate con after elaborate con, complete with overarching thematic nuances devised by the mad genius that is Stephen. Only Bloom’s had enough. He can’t do another con. He wants to live an ‘unscripted life.’

Stephen is able to get Bloom aboard  for this last con because he knows Bloom will fall for Penelope the moment he sees her. (In fact, Stephen is seemingly able to get anyone to do anything with his mastery of manipulation.) Yet Penelope seems aware of much more than she lets on. The plan they’ve devised takes them (and us) all across the globe, from New Jersey to Greece to Prague to Montenegro to Mexico. The scenery of the movie resembles something from a fancy travelogue and adds to its glossy veneer.

Without getting into too many details, the movie revolves around the same central premise as almost all con movies: who is really conning who? Unfortunately, that question became one I stopped caring about far too early. The movie has its share of magical moments – the opening sequence, Penelope describing her childhood while performing a card trick and the montage showing Penelope’s affinity for picking up hobbies are worth celebrating – but they don’t do much to hold the film together as a whole.

Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz are among my favorite actors and Rian Johnson’s first movie really impressed me, so maybe my expectations were simply too high. But for me, what could have been a quirky, irreverent movie instead ended up feeling a bit pretentious and contrived. Too bad. This movie does show you how gifted a director Johnson is but only in spurts. The rest of the movie cannot make up for the shortfall no matter how hard it tries, and try hard it does. You can almost feel the effort the movie is making to keep you interested.

There are flashes of brilliance here. Unfortunately, they all outshine the final product. This movie left me yearning to see what Johnson can come up with next, yet overall, I give this one a C.

Here are a few of the scenes that I really liked if you’re interested.

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Written by the bee dub

October 28, 2009 at 6:42 pm

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