(2008) dir. Rian Johnson
The Brothers Bloom is the most recent film from director Rian Johnson, whose prior effort Brick (2005) was an interesting surprise. This film, however, kind of came and went from theaters without much hoopla, though I’d recalled that it hadn’t gotten bad reviews.
It stars Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as the titular brothers, ranging con men since their orphaned youth, full of clever moments, quirks and asides (the one-legged cat was perhaps the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while, rowing on a roller skate like device with a crutch-like thing on its forepaw.) The world they inhabit is by no means intended to be reality. It’s a frivolous, fun, goof-ball universe replete with oddities and kookiness.
And in a perfect film, all this is just plain laugh-out-loud hilarious or as downright charming as possible. And I don’t doubt that there will be people out there for whom this film will work that way, because it does have charm and quirks and fun. But mostly, to me, it was one of those cases where the intent is so obvious: “Isn’t this fun? Isn’t this hilarious? Don’t you just love these guys?” that it’s inorganic and doesn’t flow.
Brody is the younger brother, who pines for love and normality, or “an unscripted life”, since his brother is always cooking up their scams and roles therein, and Brody is just an actor. But Ruffalo cons him into one final big score, bilking a rich beautiful heiress, played by the always enjoyable Rachel Weisz (probably one of my personal favorite actresses out there), who is quirkier than quirk itself. In a brief sequence she is demonstrated having mastered the violin, the piano, the accordian, ping pong, the unicycle, many languages.
I really wish this film had worked a little better because it has a lot going for it. And it’s certainly not hateful, but it’s twee. After a while I was feeling more annoyed by the quriks and whims and how in love with its own cleverness that it was. There was almost a good film in there and as a result, it’s mostly a decent film, nothing embarrassing, just a little too much for its own good.
But I love Rachel Weisz.