The Brothers Bloom

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Deal Score0

Amazon.com
Writer-director Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom has a lot going for it, like an excellent cast doing good work, fabulous locations, a sumptuous look, and some interesting ideas in a genre that’s rife with possibilities. Somehow, though, the film is a whole that’s less than the sum of its parts. We meet siblings Stephen and Bloom, the products of numerous foster homes, at ages 13 and 10, respectively, as they’re starting to develop the skills and savvy that will hel… More >>

The Brothers Bloom

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5 Comments
  1. I hated this movie. Once you realize that it’s all about the con, you soon understand that nothing is what it seems, so there are no real surprises. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody play brothers who have no on-screen chemistry. They don’t even remotely look like brothers. Ruffalo is overly confident and smug while Brody sulks around, broods and complains throughout and then, without an ounce of charm, manages to get the girl. We all know when the hero looks like Ichabod Crane, that never happens.

    The girl in question is played by Rachel Weisz. We are asked to believe that she is such a horrible, inept driver, that she crashes every time she is behind the wheel and yet she manages to pull of a major con, is caught in the act and then is freed with the valuable book she has stolen hidden in her blouse. Since this is so unbelievable and improbable, we are asked to just accept it with no explanation whatsoever.

    No one is very likeable, but then, from out of nowhere comes the most annoying character to ever appear in any film: Bang Bang, played by Rinko Kikuchi. She seems to be having fun with her role, but I wanted to ring her neck. Not until now, have I ever seen a movie in which one of the characters (Bang Bang) could be erased without affecting any of the scenes, the story or the outcome.

    Maximilian Schell and Robbie Coltrane are tossed in the mix to add to the intentional quirkiness of the film.

    When you can’t relate to anyone, you don’t care what happens to them

    and I found the young brothers Bloom very unlikeable and it only got worse as the brothers got older.

    I say you can skip it.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  2. I watched this movie on a plane flight from Chicago to Portland. All in all I’d rather have slept. This film is hard to describe, because it intentionally tries (very hard) to be clever and quirky. The writer seems to have a headware fetish as people wearing hats of every conceivable kind seems to be a major objective of the film. How many can you count? All kinds of hats. Even some of the statues in background scenes have hats. Oh yes, and eyeware. Goggles, regular glasses, sun glasses, enormous binnoculars take your pick. And gloves, multiple multiple gloves and handware. It seems they must have spent half the budget on hats, glasses and gloves for the charactors. Weird budget choice. Then there’s the pointless and silly explosions through out the film. Same your money and more importatnly save your time. This is a bad movie.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  3. Whether you love or hate the movies of Wes Anderson, you have to admit that his films have a style and tone that is nearly unmistakable (I happen to love his films). His movies have a combination of quirky humor, odd and melancholy characters, and frequently unexpected sad twists. The camera work is almost deliberately obtrusive, as though he wants you to be very aware that you’re looking at people…rather than JOINING them. I find his tone of sadness and intelligent, cynical humor to be engaging…but I also recognize that it leaves a lot of people cold.

    I now have a better understanding of that side of Anderson after seeing THE BROTHERS BLOOM (not directed by Anderson). Writer/director Rian Johnson (BRICK…also stylistically pushy) has crafted a movie with the morose characters and amusing plot leading to some heartbreak with which Anderson has lately been identified. His characters dress in unorthodox manners and live in a world disconnected from what we think of as familiar. But the film has a loose, flabby feel and sometimes when it wants to indulge in “feelings” it forgets to keep moving. There are certainly moments of fun, particularly early on…but in the end, it was an unsatisfying journey.

    Stephen (the elder) and his brother Bloom (the younger) spend their childhoods drifting from one foster home to another. These are smart boys, but eager to put their smarts to less than honest works. While Bloom would clearly like to just be a nice, shy boy leading a normal if bookish life…Stephen has a reckless energy (and a keen desire to make his brother something more) and uses this intelligence to devise elaborate con games. Bloom is reluctant, but as it turns out, very good. Stephen is the scriptwriter and supporting actor, but Bloom is always the star.

    They grow up and eventually in their late 30’s they grow apart. Or rather, Bloom dumps his brother to go live a solitary, sad life, thinking about all the people whose emotions he’s manipulated in order to take their money. Naturally, Stephen finds him and sets up the story of “one last con.” Bloom reluctantly agrees. They are going to steal millions from lonely heiress Penelope (Rachel Weisz)…but it turns out not to be so easy, because Penelope is eager to get involved in shenanigans herself. As they travel the world, it’s not always clear who is double crossing whom, nor is it clear who is feeling what for whom. We think, from time to time, that Bloom is REALLY falling for Penelope…or he might be a really good actor.

    I won’t hint at more of the plot, but I will say that the con itself was not very elaborate or satisfying. I had expected the film to have a more THE STING-like complexity…but really the events play out in a very linear fashion that did not leave me impressed. Even the “twist” ending was nothing terribly surprising. I realized then, that writer/director Johnson had more on his mind than the plot…he was doing a character study. However, he mostly showed us behaviors and nothing very deep about the inner workings of the characters.

    Bloom (Adrien Brody…doing his best “sad sack”) is clearly a man in turmoil over his lifestyle. That was the one emotion I could really connect to and understand. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot else to him. In one scene, he steals an apple and makes an attempt to escape, and we see the joy on his face at the delight of running through beautiful fields of flowers with angry folks chasing him. It was a return to the simpler times of his childhood…and a lovely scene. One of too few. Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) is much more of a cipher. He’s the big brother. He’s the schemer who can’t imagine any other life than that of a con artist. He doesn’t seem to get how his brother feels or to feel guilty about what he does…yet apparently he is a keen observer of human behavior. Ruffalo does fine in the role, but the script has truly relegated him to the background much of the time. Weisz is a delightful oddball. Not a convincing “real life” person…but she has an expressive face and a bumbling physicality that was surprising coming from her. I enjoyed her performance, even as I realized that I wasn’t actually terribly interested in Penelope. I think I was enjoying Weisz having a lark more than I was enjoying her creating a flesh and blood character.

    Stephen and Bloom (it’s never explained why the film is called THE BROTHERS BLOOM…doesn’t that imply this is their last name? Perhaps Bloom has never gone by his first name? Who knows?) are assisted in their cons by Bang Bang, a Japanese explosives expert who hardly makes a sound. She’s played with great style by Rinko Kikuchi (BABEL), but again, is not for one second a believable person…she’s an amusing idea and Kikuchi is having a blast playing her.

    The film frequently turns “serious” and then wants to be lighthearted again. What it doesn’t seem to understand is that sometimes BOTH tones can exist in the same scene. Something Anderson does well, and something Johnson can’t manage.

    The film is also shot in a very dark, muted palette. The main characters wear mostly black, white and gray. The cities around them (Montenegro, Prague, etc.) all are the same muddy color, and the sky always looks like rain is just around the corner. It was, to be blunt, a somewhat ugly film to look at. For one extended period, Penelope finally wears some color, but it’s a horrid orange serape sort of thing that makes Weisz look like a big ochre block with a head. I can appreciate muted palette’s and such…but all the efforts at light-hearted fun have most of the fun leached from them by the dark atmosphere.

    THE BROTHERS BLOOM did have its sporadic moments of fun. Weisz works really hard and Brody & Ruffalo are always pleasant to watch. But I just felt the film was trying far too hard and missing the mark too often to get a recommendation from me. A disappointment.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  4. Rented this movie, thankfully I rented it! I’m wondering why its coming out on Bluray way after the regular dvd format. Anyway, the movie tries way too hard to be smart, and some of it was creative, but it just lacked that one important thing that keeps the audience interested: Entertainment! Its a shame, I all three actors, but just the way the movie did not flow right, trying to be funny in places when it was not, it was just downright boring. I’ll be honest, I thought it was so bad I didn’t finish it.

    It did however remind me of an older movie about two con artists, which was funny and entertaining, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. I do not recommend the Brothers Bloom movie.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  5. brody was very good … defiantly not a typical con-job flick, surprisingly comedic & subtle — RINKO KIKUCHI had few lines yet a salient role. do have to say couple creepy moments “the train-lightening-scene” .
    Rating: 4 / 5

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