Sometimes life brings some strange surprises.
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Broken Flowers follows recently single Don Johnston who is resigned to be alone. That is until a mysterious letter from an anonymous former lover arrives on his doorstep informing him that he has a nineteen year old son. Don reluctantly embarks on a cross-country road trip in search for clues, making unannounced visits to four former flames who hold new surprises at every stop.
The British filmmaker established himself within independent cinema and is well known for his unique style. His films often focus on developing mood and characters rather than providing innovative narratives. This is the case for Broken Flowers as Jarmusch reportedly spent only two and a half weeks on the script. Remarkably for such a short time, his narrative is able to be engaging from start to finish as Don unintentionally confronts his past and, consequently, his present.
Similarly the minimalistic approach to the cinematography by Frederick Elmes emphasises the mood. Conscious decisions to position the protagonist within wide shots with increased depth reinforces the loneliness and solitude his character is feeling. Additionally, uncomfortable long shots linger for much longer than necessary, disrupting the pace. In most films devices that slow the narrative are often problematic and deter audiences, but here this creativity is rewarded by supplementing the story.
With a lone adventurer at the heart of the story, this is a classic example of a Jarmusch film to its core. Though he’s typically associated with the comedy genre, Bill Murray has proven capable of providing stellar performances in unfamiliar roles – Lost in Translation and Get Low for example. Here, as the former Don Juan, his subdued performance is aided by brilliantly written dark humour that anchors to a more mature, serious Murray.
Patience is essential for Jarmusch’s films, and those who stick around for its duration will be rewarded with a visually stunning, immaculately performed, thoroughly enjoyable film that will stay with you long after its conclusion.