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Review: Bros Bloom

Bros Bloom
05.18.2009
7 10

PLOT: The Brothers Bloom have spent their entire life scamming others. When they were children, they were passed around to several foster homes, but along the way, they learned the art of a good con. As they find themselves in their thirties, and still playing this dangerous game, the youngest of the two wants out. And being the man that he is, his older brother convinces him to take on one more adventure. But once he meets the woman they are about to bilk out of millions of dollars, he begins to fall in love with the victim.

REVIEW: Like a homemade pinhole camera, THE BROTHERS BLOOM is an intriguing bit of cinema that isn’t always what it seems. The characters, the time frame, and just the basic con artist premise is smudged and slightly altered. This is just like the image you might get from this unique way of capturing a moment from a camera made out of a watermelon (and no, I‘m not crazy, it is part of the film). THE BROTHERS BLOOM is a slightly skewed look at a couple of con men who started at a young age. When they were children, they were passed about from foster family to foster family, for a variety of reasons. And once they discovered the power of money and a good scam, the two learn very quickly how to fend for themselves. The early years of Stephen and his younger sibling Bloom are explored in an interesting, and very old fashioned way. It is clear that young Bloom is the romantic, and Stephen is the brains. And it is the older that seems to continue to create reality for his younger brother, a reality which is written as a mystery.

When the two brothers grow up, Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) is still creating half truths and lies for Bloom (Adrien Brody) so they can pull a fast one on some unsuspecting sap. Just when they are ready to split, Stephen convinces his brother to be a part of a massive con involving a strange, and extremely wealthy recluse named Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz). The two plan to get her involved in some shady dealings, and having her run for fear of her life, leaving her money behind. Well, truthfully, it is a bit more complicated than that, but that is the idea. And when the beautiful, yet very odd woman agrees, it almost becomes a detriment to them as she seems hungry for adventure. The plan is set accordingly as the brothers always do. They hire several actors to play a part, including Robbie Coltrane as “The Curator” and a dastardly looking fellow named “Diamond Dog” played by Maximilian Schell. Also on hand for their shenanigans is Bang Bang played by Rinko Kikuchi. Bang Bang handles all the explosions and many of the dangerous tasks at hand, all without uttering a word and still giving a very nice performance.

Writer/Director Rian Johnson creates one oddball piece that mostly works. The relationship with the brothers is an interesting one, and the crafty and elaborate situations they create for the love of con is impressive. Rian is able to blend film noir with an old fashioned screwball comedy into a pretty fresh little package. While it sometimes feels misshapen with a couple of really jerky edits and an ending that seems to take just a little too long to arrive, it has a certain charm to it. It is almost timeless as it feels so old fashioned, while still offering a slightly modern atmosphere. There is a lovely shot of Ms. Weisz on a train with a fantastic looking full moon that seems to follow them along. Mr. Johnson really seems to know how to create a memorable image. And the many different locations are add to the beauty of the film.

As for Ruffalo and Brody, I happen to think both of these actors are quite good. Especially Ruffalo, as he has this sort of charm that is reminiscent of Dean or Brando, with a ton of vulnerability thrown in. I guess a better comparison would be to Vincent D’Onofrio. Both of the brothers here are very charismatic. And while the brothers bloom worked well enough, it is the simply knockout performance by Weisz that steals the show. Her Penelope is sweet, bizarre, clever and in a hilarious montage, really quite talented. I’ve always enjoyed Rachel, but there is something about this performance that really worked for me. She is very quick as the comedienne and still incredibly moving in the more serious moments. I liked her chemistry with Brody, although she shined so brightly that she would’ve made anybody look great next to her.

Now as entertained as I was by THE BROTHERS BLOOM, somewhere around the end of the second act or so, it seemed to lose focus. The inclusion of Mr. Schell’s “Diamond Dog” was sort of unnecessary. And maybe they just couldn’t resist to have this legendary actor along for the ride, it took away from an already entertaining story. I appreciated the simplicity between the four main characters, and while you needed to have a villain on some level, I think they could have scaled down a bit and removed some of the extra baggage (ie. characters). And while I found the film to be edited fairly well, there were a small handful of moments that didn’t work at all. These quick cuts that had me wondering if I had missed something. I’m sure there was a reason behind it, but when they came about, I sort of wondered if there was a problem with the projectionist. It definitely took me out for a moment.

But even with a small handful of flaws, at least Rian takes a chance. This is an entertaining little dream of a movie that features a talented cast and an involving story (for the most part). The relationship between Bloom and Penelope is such a pleasure to watch. Both actors work very well together, especially Weisz who is simply enchanting here as a well to do “epileptic photographer”. It may not be a perfect movie, but it certainly is a creative one. I’ll take a flawed, yet charming and clever film over a cookie cutter big budget flick almost any day of the week. Especially one with a performance like Weisz gives here. My rating 7.5/10 -- JimmyO

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Source: JoBlo.com

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