The Brothers Bloom

"Good"

The Brothers Bloom Review


A perfectly swell caper film that ultimately can't sustain the propelling giddiness of its first hour, The Brothers Bloom burns bright with brilliance before sputtering out in the end. In a case of extreme overreach, writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick) sets out to make a magical-realist brother-buddy screwball romantic comedy heist film, and actually comes close to making it all work. Given the cock-eyed neo-noir linguistic mania of his first film, Johnson seems to be just the right kind of blooming genius to pull off this kind of over-ambitious cinematic caper, but in the end he just sets himself an impossible task.

Johnson's brothers Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) appear in the film like some kind of magic vaudeville act gone to seed. A spectacularly goofy opener (including a fake magic cave and a one-legged cat locomoting about on a roller skate) about their childhood paints them as Damon Runyon-style scamps set free in a landscape of innocent marks. It's a cotton-candy world that the boys, with their slouchy hats and black suits, are going to take for everything they can. Their roles are cut and dried: Stephen as the storytelling author of their scams, Bloom as his moody and conflicted accomplice, fated to never live a real life of his own.

Cut to adulthood, after an unseen but very educational sojourn in Russia, and the bickering duo are casting about Europe with a gypsy hoodlum flair. They've got the same wardrobe but better patter, not to mention the addition of Bang Bang (a phenomenally deadpan Rinko Kikuchi), a Japanese explosives expert who apparently speaks no English but functions like the brothers' own personal Q -- albeit one with innumerable jazzy wardrobe changes and a penchant for blowing up Barbie dolls with nitro. The only thing that's changed is that Bloom wants out of the con-artist life and Stephen can only entice him back by promising one final score: scamming the daffy, blindingly rich beauty Penelope (Rachel Weisz, playing it about 45 degrees away from sane). Stephen's only demand is that Bloom -- whom Brody plays as another of his emotionally blocked, ulcerous yearners -- can't fall in love with Penelope; so of course he does.

Johnson is eager to please as he sets up the building blocks of his story, packing the screen with diverting sights gags, slapstick, and exotic locales. The dialogue whips out smart and fast, packed with references to Melville and Dostoyevsky and deadpan lines like "I don't mean to vilify a whole country, but Mexico's a horrible place." Given its thicket of allusions and storybook air, The Brothers Bloom should remind one of a hundred other movies, but except for the occasional over-emphatic nod to Wes Anderson, it somehow doesn't.

Where the film goes wrong is hard to identify, but it arrives somewhere after the mid-point, when Johnson has thrown in one too many double-crosses and fake-outs. The arrival of Maximilian Schell as the brothers' vicious old Fagin-styled mentor also brings an unwelcome scent of heaviness and evil to a light confection that had been cracking along just fine until that point. Despite all his best efforts, Johnson and his cast wear themselves out long before the finish line, and by the time the film arrives at its climactic reveal in a decrepit seaside theater, its once-airborne feet are sadly well-anchored on the tired old ground.

Boneless.



The Brothers Bloom

Facts and Figures

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st May 2009

Box Office USA: $3.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $5.5M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

Production compaines: The Weinstein Company, Summit Entertainment, Endgame Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 97 Rotten: 51

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Rian Johnson

Producer: , James D. Stern

Starring: as Penelope Stamp, as Bloom, as Stephen, as Bang Bang, as The Curator, as Diamond Dog, as Narrator (voice), as Young Bloom, as Young Stephen, as Charleston, as The Duke, as Rose, Ana Sofrenović as Charleston's Wife, Vladimir Kulhavy as Chief of Police

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.