Budweiser. The Nissan Altima. Donovan. They have indelible qualities which I like, but don’t love – Budweiser is a stalwart stand-by ready to do the job in the pinch, but it is a little bitter; the Altima is drivable to be sure, but it’s no S-Series; Donovan pumped out some great tunes, however none as transcendent as Dylan. All fall into the category of “Good, but not Great,” and to that list I might add Rian Johnson’s new film, “The Brothers Bloom.” Fun, quirky, and with a brilliant cast the film is enjoyable, but never manages to rise above that – enjoyable.
The production design is stylish and sleek, the writing is infused with an innocence that is in conflict with its subject matter, the direction makes for an interesting tone that heightens the humor, and overall makes the action pure fun. Too bad Wes Anderson has a corner on that market. If, in some fluke of the time-space continuum, Mr. Anderson had not been born this film would have worked so much better, but the picayune and self-conscious attention to detail, in both image and dialogue, was too reminiscent to ignore.
The highlight of “Bloom” is the cast who take the material seriously, but not so much as to render their performances too heavy-handed. Like a real star Rachel Weisz is luminous, and with her gravity pulls in the audience making them wonder just what will her Penelope do next. Fighting for satellites are Mark Ruffalo as the mastermind Steven Bloom, and Rinko Kikuchi as Bang-Bang; gas giants dominating over this solar system. The one Pluto of the bunch is Adrian Brody as Bloom, the mopey hero, ever fighting for planetary status, but never making it.
The literary reference riddled screenplay, which Johnson penned himself, falls into the same traps that ensnare most Con Men flicks. Quoting Tolstoy and naming your characters after Joyce makes for interesting after-viewing sidewalk chatter, but it won’t make up for the questions inevitably left when the con is over and done with. Leaving too much of the big con, on which the film is primarily based around, to chance the plot unwinds if you start pulling on the loose ends. Though like a magician Mr. Johnson hopes that his directorial slight of hand will keep the audience from noticing the script’s failings, and for the most part he succeeds.
Whatever the flaws of “The Brothers Bloom” it has enough going for it to be worth the two hours spent watching it. Rian Johnson’s writing and direction may not be revolutionary, but they are definitely above par, and make him one of the film makers to watch in the future. If he can find a unique pitch to his voice then he might find himself sipping on a Hitachino Rice Ale, driving a Maybach, and listening to the Beatles, rolling along in a category of his own.
El Luchador Rating: 4 out of 5 (4 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)