Jarmusch’s new film ‘Broken Flowers’ definitely not wilted | VailDaily.com

Jarmusch’s new film ‘Broken Flowers’ definitely not wilted

Shauna Farnell
Special to the DailyDon Johnston (Bill Murray) doesn't bat an eye at the coming and going of women in his life. Then, after the departure of his latest girlfriend (in background), he receives a perplexing pink letter in "Broken Flowers."

The best thing about Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers” is that it’s quirky without trying to be. Bill Murray is Don Johnston, a retired businessman who doesn’t seem very proud of his success in the computer industry. He makes a point to not have a computer in his home and doesn’t pretend to be the least bit computer savvy.I’m not real sure when producers and directors came to regard Murray as a good candidate to play the role of a peculiarly attractive aging gentleman. Nonetheless, this is Johnston, who, regardless of not having much in the personality department, has had a long history of beautiful women.

He hasn’t managed to keep any of them, however. It’s not entirely clear why, other than how Johnston isn’t terribly attentive or doting. He spends his afternoon sitting on the coach and listlessly watching a dark classic film, for example, rather than noticing that his current live-in girlfriend is packing her things and moving out.Shortly thereafter, when Johnston gets a mysterious letter in the mail saying that he has a 19-year-old son who is likely on a road trip searching for him, Johnston and Winston (Jeffrey Wright), his buddy next door, begin to wonder which of Johnston’s many past girlfriends might be the mother and the writer of the letter. The letter has no return address or signature.Winston, who is happily married with three children, has a passion for detective work. He unearths addresses for all of the possibilities that Johnston comes up with. He makes all of the arrangements for flights and car rentals for Johnston to visit the various places, and advises Johnston to keep his eye out for some telltale clues. The letter is typed. The paper and envelope are pink. This could mean something.

“Broken Flowers” is categorized as “adventure-comedy-drama,” but it’s really more of a mystery. The title is no exception. Flowers are symbolic throughout the film, and perhaps “broken” flowers refer to all of Johnston’s broken relationships. If you’re in the mood for a love story, you will find this one disturbingly unsatisfying. If you have found yourself perplexed by love and relationships during your life and want to see a well-executed case study (or several altogether) about what an enigma it all is, then this is a fantastic film.Jarmusch’s other creations include “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai,” “Coffee and Cigarettes” and “Dead Man,” all films with an underlying notion that things aren’t always what they seem. In “Broken Flowers,” we never get a clear idea of how things are, but, what better way to depict true life? When was the last time you felt you completely understood something, especially when it comes to relationships that come and go?”Broken Flowers” is 100 minutes of though-provoking relationship psychology.

Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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