The Brothers Bloom

"OK"

The Brothers Bloom Review


A perfectly swell caper film that ultimately can't sustain the propelling giddiness of its first hour, The Brothers Bloom burns bright with brilliance before sputtering out in the end. In a case of extreme overreach, writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick) sets out to make a magical-realist brother-buddy screwball romantic comedy heist film, and actually comes close to making it all work. Given the cock-eyed neo-noir linguistic mania of his first film, Johnson seems to be just the right kind of blooming genius to pull off this kind of over-ambitious cinematic caper, but in the end he just sets himself an impossible task.

Johnson's brothers Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) appear in the film like some kind of magic vaudeville act gone to seed. A spectacularly goofy opener (including a fake magic cave and a one-legged cat locomoting about on a roller skate) about their childhood paints them as Damon Runyon-style scamps set free in a landscape of innocent marks. It's a cotton-candy world that the boys, with their slouchy hats and black suits, are going to take for everything they can. Their roles are cut and dried: Stephen as the storytelling author of their scams, Bloom as his moody and conflicted accomplice, fated to never live a real life of his own.

Cut to adulthood, after an unseen but very educational sojourn in Russia, and the bickering duo are casting about Europe with a gypsy hoodlum flair. They've got the same wardrobe but better patter, not to mention the addition of Bang Bang (a phenomenally deadpan Rinko Kikuchi), a Japanese explosives expert who apparently speaks no English but functions like the brothers' own personal Q -- albeit one with innumerable jazzy wardrobe changes and a penchant for blowing up Barbie dolls with nitro. The only thing that's changed is that Bloom wants out of the con-artist life and Stephen can only entice him back by promising one final score: scamming the daffy, blindingly rich beauty Penelope (Rachel Weisz, playing it about 45 degrees away from sane). Stephen's only demand is that Bloom -- whom Brody plays as another of his emotionally blocked, ulcerous yearners -- can't fall in love with Penelope; so of course he does.

Johnson is eager to please as he sets up the building blocks of his story, packing the screen with diverting sights gags, slapstick, and exotic locales. The dialogue whips out smart and fast, packed with references to Melville and Dostoyevsky and deadpan lines like "I don't mean to vilify a whole country, but Mexico's a horrible place." Given its thicket of allusions and storybook air, The Brothers Bloom should remind one of a hundred other movies, but except for the occasional over-emphatic nod to Wes Anderson, it somehow doesn't.

Where the film goes wrong is hard to identify, but it arrives somewhere after the mid-point, when Johnson has thrown in one too many double-crosses and fake-outs. The arrival of Maximilian Schell as the brothers' vicious old Fagin-styled mentor also brings an unwelcome scent of heaviness and evil to a light confection that had been cracking along just fine until that point. Despite all his best efforts, Johnson and his cast wear themselves out long before the finish line, and by the time the film arrives at its climactic reveal in a decrepit seaside theater, its once-airborne feet are sadly well-anchored on the tired old ground.

Boneless.



The Brothers Bloom

Facts and Figures

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st May 2009

Box Office USA: $3.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $5.5M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: Summit Entertainment

Production compaines: The Weinstein Company, Summit Entertainment, Endgame Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 97 Rotten: 51

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Rian Johnson

Producer: , James D. Stern

Starring: as Penelope Stamp, as Bloom, as Stephen, as Bang Bang, as The Curator, as Diamond Dog, as Narrator (voice), as Young Bloom, as Young Stephen, as Charleston, as The Duke, as Rose, Ana Sofrenović as Charleston's Wife, Vladimir Kulhavy as Chief of Police

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.