Review Date: December 30, 2005
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Producers: Jim Jarmusch, Jon Kilik, Stacey Smith
Bill Murray as Don
Jeffrey Wright as Winston
Sharon Stone as Laura
An aging lothario (yeah, Bill Murray…just go with it!) wakes up one morning to find his latest girlfriend walking out the door, and a pink letter announcing a 19-year old son he never knew he had, in his mailbox. Unsure about who the letter-writer is, Murray sets out on a semi-road trip – prepared by his enthusiastic neighbor – in an attempt to dwindle the possible mothers-of-his-child down to the one and only. He has five ladies to visit and we’re along for the ride.
I’m not sure if I hate this movie’s ending or if I love it (I’ll have to decide by the end of this review), but I do know one thing: I quite enjoyed its journey. I didn’t think I would because I’m not a big fan of director Jim Jarmusch, as I find most of his films to be pretentious and slow-moving, and Bill Murray is really starting to bore me by playing the same character in most of his movies nowadays (the stone-faced, dry-witted guy who doesn’t move much), but somehow I got past both those negative preconceptions and really got into this story, which is an intriguing concept, to say the least. Years after you’ve dated/slept with a certain amount of women, you decide to go on a road trip and re-visit them. It’s probably not the brightest idea in the world, but it’s one that as a so-called “adult”, I too have imagined every now and again, as have many other people who find themselves at a crossroads in their lives. Of course, most “real people” never really go through with the phone calls or the visits, because let’s face it…it’s embarrassing and you’ll likely look like a desperate fool, but in the case of this film, the premise is such that it doesn’t come off as goofy, so there I was, stoked to see how each woman would react to seeing this so-called “Don Juan” after all their years apart. Needless to say, all of the women in question reacted quite differently and in my opinion, in entertaining fashions, to Murray’s visits. The film does move slow as per most of Jarmusch’s presentations, but it’s actually soothing, as we sit next to Murray as he drives/flies from one ex-girlfriend to the next (note how we’re always looking ahead through the front view window and then looking back through the rear-view mirrors…get it, looking ahead/looking back…natch!).
Most of the ladies are also played by solid actresses (although their parts are really “glorified cameos”, if you ask me) and the interaction between them and Murray was compelling, if only because it made me wonder about what their relationship could have been like originally. The film’s also got an obvious mystery element underlying all of the trips (Murray’s trying to figure out which one of the ladies sired his child), but if you know your “indie flicks” as much as the next guy, you should know by now that the mystery will not be resolved A-B-C as per most Hollywood movies. I also really enjoyed this film’s soundtrack, the excellent supporting part playing by Jeffrey Wright and yeah, you know what…now that I’ve had time to think about the ending…I really liked that too! Initially, I hated its abrupt nature, but as per most “indie flicks”, it’s deeper than that, baby. So I sat, thought about it all a little bit more and got something deeper out of it, which was nice…for a change. The film is definitely not for everyone, but if you’re like me and missing “relationship movies” in this day and age, you’ll likely appreciate this little ditty as it features an interesting concept, charming performances, dry yet effective humor, underlying questions and suspense (although no easy answers), an awesome little cutie Lolita played by Alexis Dziena and yeah…a little existentialism for anyone wondering about the meaning of their lives or their past.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian