Genre: Bill Murray's mature stage
Director: Jim Jarmusch
DVD release: Jan. 3, 2006
It's amazing what filmmakers can do these days with a catatonic Bill Murray. At one point in Broken Flowers, he's sitting alone on the couch in his darkened apartment with a glass of champagne bubbling in front of him and Marvin Gaye playing on the stereo as he stares blankly ahead. His range in this movie varies only from total despondence to partially awake. Yet, what could simply be dull movie making becomes a profound statement on modern suburban emptiness or a sustained emotional mood that is its own reward independent of plot. But wait, there is a soupcon of plot here: Don Johnston (Murray) receives a letter from an old flame telling him he has a son who has set out on a journey to find him. Aided by his mystery-obsessed neighbor, Johnston takes his own road trip to visit his past flames and determine which one may be the mother of his child. Or is someone just playing a trick on him? With each visit, Johnston sees a few subtle clues, and there is some mild humor with the likes of Sharon Stone and her uninhibited daughter. If you don't mind ambiguous endings and expect less from this than from Lost in Translation, you just might enjoy it.
A little bonus for folks like yours truly whose last name really is Johnston: When people think he says "Don Johnson," he says, "Johnston, with a T." If I had a dollar for every time I've said that …