The Brothers Bloom


The Brothers Bloom
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Written by: Rian Johnson
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz

The Brothers Bloom
is a whopper of a tale. It follows the typical con-man falls for the con plot, but The Brothers Bloom is far from typical. It’s fantastical, farfetched, and riveting. Writer/director Rian Johnson, who brought us the neo-noir film Brick (2005) is back in action, and clearly having a hell of a time.

The story follows the lives of con-men Stephen (Ruffalo) and Bloom (Brody) from their early days when they were kids to the height of their deceptive prowess. After their latest escapade Bloom decides that this isn’t the life for him. Years later, Stephen shows up with one last con for the duo to pull off.

While being repetitive nearing the end of the film, I found the story to be fresh and lively. The plots within the story seemed more convoluted than they actually were, and were easily followed, giving the viewer more freedom to experience the film. There were times, however, when I felt like the film needed a little more subtlety. While the narrator was needed and kept the story going at it’s brisk pace, I occasionally felt that the narrator gave away too much information. There were also a few quick flashbacks near the end of the film that were redundant.

The subtext of the film is hard to pinpoint, and I expect that I will be revisiting this film very soon. It’s difficult because The Brothers Bloom is at times subtle and at times very upfront about what’s going on. Thinking back, one of my favorite scenes is when Bloom, who has been struggling with his personal freedom (seemingly) steals an apple at random. It’s a defining moment for Bloom and for the theme of free will, which is ironic within the environment of the film.

While Bloom is the main character of the film, Mark Ruffalo is the talent that shines. Mixing Cary Grant with a dash of Paul Newman, Ruffalo exudes a roguish charm, topped off with a black fedora.

Robbie Coltrane shows up as a minor character, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt sneaks in with my favorite cameo of the year so far. The character of Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), while mildly entertaining, is an unnecessary character that has very little bearing on the other characters…although she did bring explosives.

At the end of the day I have to ask myself, did I take much away from the film? I’m not sure. But it was one hell of a ride, and I look forward to watching it again.



7 Responses

  1. […] Joseph Demme at a reciew of The Brothers Bloom up at Cinexcellence: Bob Clark, who penned the  great Heaven’s Gate review at Wonders still has his equally great […]

  2. You’re right about all of its pros and all of its cons. It does get repetitive and convoluted towards the end, especially with the multiple endings and the flashbacks. However, I loved the characters, the actors’ performances were strong, and the cinematography gets a big thumbs-up from me.

  3. Wanted to stop by and wish you and yours a Happy Holiday season, Joseph. Your updates are soirely missed, though school is far more important that blogging. Hope to speak to you soon.

  4. I’m soliciting bloggers’ favorites (of their own posts) for my year-end round-up at The Dancing Image. Here’s the explanation (with a bit of a mea culpa):

    Feel free to leave your own selection there – links to all submissions will be posted around the 30th, but I’ll certainly be taking them after that too.

    Thanks & happy new year!

  5. Great write-up! I also felt this film was really original and fresh in terms of story and even down to the costume design (the screenshot you provide is a perfect example of it). I’m looking forward to future films by Rian Johnson.

  6. This was one hell of a ride, Joseph, and I loved most every minute of it. I’m still shocked that Rian Johnson didn’t at least get a Best Original Screenplay nomination for it. Much as I loved “Inglourious Basterds,” I would have rooted for Rian on this one.

  7. Hey Joseph,
    I’m hosting the My Best Post blog-a-thon.
    It goes from May 21st-23rd. Want to be a part of it?
    It’s pretty easy. You’ve already written your entry.
    Just send me a link to your best/favorite/underrated blog post! Thanks!

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