INT: Rian Johnson
Almost immediately after watching BRICK, the feature debut of writer/director Rian Johnson, I thought to myself, "Man I already can't wait to see that guy's next film." Actually my first thought was, "Wow, that movie kicked ass," and then I started thinking about his next film.
BRICK was a movie shot with so much confidence and skill that I knew I'd follow Johnson wherever he decided to go with his sophomore effort. Turns out where he decided to go was with a pair of conmen brothers named Bloom.
THE BROTHERS BLOOM both charming and complex. It manages to be a movie about conmen and their cons without really being about conmen at all. It's more a movie about people, who happen to be conmen. It's a bold step up from BRICK but certainly should not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with Johnson's work. It made me think almost immediately after, "I can't wait to see his next film."
I spoke to Johnson recently and he said the inspiration for BLOOM came not from one or two specific conmen films. "It's not inspired by any one film in the genre though I'm obviously a huge fan of films like THE STING," the Robert Redford/Paul Newman classic. While BLOOM is really nothing like THE STING, or really any other con film before it, it does share a common trait: rather elaborate cons.
In my mind, I pictured Johnson's office a maze of index cards, photos and sketches all connected with miles of string and thumbtacks. This visual makes Johnson laugh as he explains it was really nothing like that. "I'm not a good enough artist to sketch anything out beforehand." Which is not to say that writing a film like BLOOM was easy. It took Johnson a few months to properly develop their characters and their schemes, a process he started while waiting for BRICK to be released.
The script was originally titled PENELOPE named after the character Rachel Weisz plays in the film, so as Johnson explains, "it was extremely important to find the perfect actress for that part." Weisz had just recently given birth to her first child (Henry with director Darren Aronofsky) and Johnson was nervous she wouldn't be ready to ready to jump back into acting. But after meeting with Weisz and discussing the script with her, he "knew she was the one" and lucky for him, she agreed.
While Weisz and Adrien Brody and their eventual romance is certainly the focus of the film, the performance of Mark Ruffalo and the character Bang-Bang (played by Rinko Kikuchi) really help move the film along (I likened their characters to Han Solo and Chewbacca). I enjoyed those two so much, I felt like I wanted to see a spinoff with just them. "They really could star in their own movie, couldn't they?," says Johnson admitting he had to find the right balance to where they wouldn't detract from the central love story.
Johnson and I spent a little time talking about setting part of the film in my homestate of New Jersey (which was decided upon only because "we needed a place that'd be close to the ports in New York"), his feelings about the frequent release date changes ("I'm ultimately very happy with where we are now") and his upcoming film, a sci-fi actioner called LOOPER. "It's a film set in a dystopian society and centers on time travel though the film takes place solely in modern times." He compares the time travel element to something out of TERMINATOR and admits that maybe following up the complex world of cons with the complex world of time travel wasn't the best idea. "Maybe I'll have to use your index card and string idea..."
THE BROTHERS BLOOM opens in New York and Los Angeles today and in more cities on May 29.