Film Review: THE BROTHERS BLOOM.

Ok, I have been posting about THE BROTHERS BLOOM for over two freakin’ years now. At long last, the film is being released nationally. Two weeks ago, it had a limited release and has done amazing per screen numbers.

The Lynch Mob (Myself, Wifey and Cuz Randy) caught a screening a little over a week ago.

Here is a list of all of the theaters it is showing at. For those of you that often complain that Hollywood does not put out good films, put your money where your mouth is.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson has put together a fine cast and made the film he wanted to make, not what any studio dictated.

TBB starts with a glimpse of Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) at ages 13 and 10. They bounce from foster home to foster home, with various reasons given (none of them good). Stephan sets up a con in which his brother plays a key part, during that the young Bloom is able to come out of his shell. And so the brothers find their calling in life.

Upon the end of the con, we find out that there was one more aspect unbeknownst to us…a twist, if you will. For better or worse, that is a forebearer of things to come.

Fast forward to…well, I am not exactly sure when, but I suspect the mid 80s. Not because of acid-washed jeans, but because of a lack computers. Wait, there might have been a cell phone. Damn, I can’t remember. While there is a lack of modern gadgets, the clothes and surroundings don’t look too dated.

We come in at the end of another con and Bloom is tired of it. He has a conversation with Stephen that they clearly have had many times before. While Stephan loves the life of the con, Bloom wants to live “an unscripted life.”

Bloom goes his own way and times passes. Stephen appears and once again draws Bloom back in, for “one last job.”

The mark is Penelope (Rachael Weisz), a lonely, beautiful rich lady living in her childhood mansion. Because of childhood allergies (explained with a rather delightful twist) and then a mother with a lingering illness, Penelope has spent her entire life in, or around, said home. She is very socially awkward and struggles with new people.

I should say Rachael does an excellent job with the role. I had no problems believing that she was uncomfortable around people as her first scenes with Bloom are painful to watch. Then we learn that she collects hobbies. This gets damn funny as we see her skateboard, breakdance and juggle chainsaws.

Bloom draws Miz Penelope in and they head off on a grand adventure.

Joining The Brothers Bloom and Penelope is Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi). I am not entirely sure if Bang Bang is Stephen’s girlfriend or just the third member of the crew. Rinko has 3 words in the entire film (not including a song late in the film) and does a great job with expressions. She handles the more physical side with fire and explosives. She is sort of the muscle of the trio.

I really can’t explain too much more without affecting the viewing pleasure of the film. So instead I will give my overall thoughts:

I really enjoyed TBB, but it is not without it’s faults. At various times, I thought I knew what was really happening, then was certain I did not, then thought I did once more, then actually started to stop caring. That last bit is not a good thing.

I understand the need for twists and turns, but too much can leave the audience feeling a little numb, and that is exactly what happened to me here. I stopped worrying about what was happening to our crew since I figured a gotcha was right around the corner. I was seriously feeling paranoid about what Rian was going to try to pull next. It felt like Rian was trying to do too much. A little more restraint would have resulted in a stronger film.

BUT, TBB has an outstanding ending that left me feeling quite a bit and smiling as I left the theater. The ending was the final twist and was one that not only worked really well, but was one that I did not see coming at all. The ending, for me, saved the film. It made total sense and even connected with some earlier scenes and dialogue.

The acting is uniformly good and the cast has real chemistry. Adrien Brody has the thankless task of playing the straight man. Pretty much everyone else has a character with quirks and oddities, while Bloom is the one that is not having fun and wants to be done with all this nonsense. Brody does a nice job of playing this part, but also having Bloom come alive at various points so we see that he is not only good at being a con man, but still has some love for it. Even Maximilian Schell and Robbie Coltrane, in minor roles, did fine. I will say that Schell character could have been written a little stronger. His character has a role in the latter stages. That role would have had more impact if Diamond Dog (Schell) was more fleshed out.

I have always thought of Mark Ruffalo as a straight man, but he plays the master con artist with gusto and delivers such charm that you can see folks buying whatever he sells. He makes you want to go hand and hand off to whatever adventure he has cooked up.

I also want to praise the script. The dialogue is entertaining and fun, yet rarely sounds staged. Credit goes not only to the cast for their chemistry but to the script as well. As it makes the brothers sound as thought they really have been together all their lives.

Following up BRICK is a hell of a thing to do, and I credit Rian for heading in different direction and presenting a film that is nothing like the one that garnered such a buzz for him. Many film-makers would be content to continue down the same path. I respect his desire to branch out. We hear of “sophomore slumps” but TBB better than most of the drek that is foisted upon us. It is full of energy and wit and is still a good film.

Overall, I give the The Brothers Bloom a 7. On the Lynch scale, a 7 is a good film. (See the bottom of the page for a breakdown of said scale.) We should reward films that try to be creative. I used to say of Robert Altman: Even at his worst, he was interesting, while his best was awesome. That could very well end up applying to Mr. Johnson. At it’s worst, TBB is well-acted, charming and smart, and at it’s best, it is utterly captivating.

Jeremy Lynch

10: A classic and one of the best. Think Casablanca, Usual Suspects and The Godfather.
9: Classic. Also can be for a film that you love with all of your heart, even if you deep down that it is not quite that good.
8: great film, perhaps one of the best of the year and can be revistied many times.
7: A good film, something that can be watched again.
6: Solid. Entertaining but not remarkable.
5: Ok, you did not waste your money, but likely won’t remember it down the line.
4: Mediocre, but not one that will have you wanting to set fire to the theater. Some will likely enjoy it…but some also like White Castle.
3: A really crappy film
2: A truly wretched turkey. Retaliation against crew and cast not out of the question.
1: A film that never should have been made. I suggest the creators check into the witness relocation program.