A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)
FILM SYNOPSIS: As the devoutly single Don
Johnston (Murray) is dumped by his latest girlfriend (Delpy), he
receives a anonymous pink letter informing him that he has a son
who may be looking for him. The situation causes Don to examine
his relationships with women instead of moving on to the next one,
and he embarks on a cross-country search for his old flames who
might possess clues to the mystery at hand
At the beginning of Broken Flowers, Don Johnston
(Bill Murray), sits on his couch as his lover Sherry prepares to
leave him. He seems uninterested, as if this has happened before
and will likely happen again. As Sherry leave is walking out, a
pink envelope in Don’s mail slot captures his attention. Intrigued,
he opens it and reads a letter from a woman with whom he had a relationship
20 years ago. She tells him that, unbeknownst to him, she had his
child, a son. Now 19, the son has set off to look for his father,
about whom he knows little. The unsigned letter advises Don to be
on the lookout.
Don shares the letter with Winston, his neighbor
and friend, who urges him to find the woman who wrote the letter.
She can tell him about the son he never knew. Reluctantly, Don begins
his journey into the past and four women he once loved, including
Sharon Stone and the still-lovely Jessica Lange. Late in the film,
a mysterious young man appears who may or may not be Don’s
Jim Jarmusch, director of Broken Flowers has been
making independent movies for two decades. His movies are characterized
by a slow pace, meandering narrative, and quirky characters. Broken
Flowers has its share of offbeat humor as Don rediscovers these
women from his past.
finds no easy answers in his quest. Who is the mother? Is the mysterious
young man his son? Without giving away the ending, I will say that
I was frustrated with the lack of resolution.
There is a curious distance to Broken Flowers. Rather than being
drawn in to the story and characters, the mood is emotionally flat.
As he showed in the far superior Lost in Translation, Murray can
play the lonely, sad middle aged man to perfection. But, unlike
Translation, there is no redeeming connection with another human
being in Broken Flowers. There is no “aha!” moment in
which Don’s soul is revealed. What did Don learned from his
journey? I didn’t know. There is a sad sense of loss in the
final closeup of Murray’s face. However, since I never felt
like I knew what made Don tick, the scene failed to touch me.
As the credits rolled, and the lights came on, I
felt puzzled and disappointed. I wanted to ask someone what it all
was supposed to mean! If you know the answer, let me know.
Tom Condon, OP