The Brothers Bloom: Another Winner from the Director of Brick

When we rented Brick a couple of years ago, we didn’t know what to expect. What we got was an unsettling and often brilliant dark, dark comedy-drama that seemed pitch-perfect from beginning to end.

Director Rian Johnson is now back with The Brothers Bloom, which is billed as a con men comedy but is actually as sad as it is funny and poses some interesting questions about the nature of identity. Ann and I loved this movie, and I’m a little surprised at the reaction in some quarters to it. No, there aren’t a lot of coincidences in the movie. No, it’s not just about the con. In fact, several things go wrong in the cons, and any “coincidences” are with regard to elements under the strict control of the con men.

The cast is outstanding, the acting brilliant. Rachel Weisz as the eccentric and lonely mark does a great job of taking that eccentricity and turning it into something vulnerable and real. Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as the brothers seem pretty much born to the role, and Rinko Kikuchi and “Bang Bang,” exploding stuff–including a lot of Barbies–absolutely steals the show with her amazing antics in the background of most scenes. Just excellent comedic acting and grace notes shown off by this actress. I was blown away.

There’s definitely some resonance between approaches taken by Rian Johnson and by Wes Anderson. The difference is that after his first film, Anderson seemingly became more interested in fluff and cardboard characters, in whimsy for its own sake, for eccentricity without depth. Johnson’s movies are thus far anchored in real emotion, and the eccentricity transforms into something much more interesting and human. It might just be that thus far Johnson has a much better sense of how important consequences are in creating good movies.

The opening sequence, with its voice-over , is pitch-perfect. What I especially love is the brothers in their little black jackets and pants. And this somewhat stylized but still realistic approach to the beginning sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the movie. One of the great things about the look of the film is how it’s set in the present-day and yet seems classic and timeless. The film’s director, set designers, and costume people have deliberately paid homage to older movies while still making us believe its the present.

Anyway, here’s that opening sequence, which totally sold me on the movie. The thing that really cracked me up was the kitten with the crutch. You’ve gotta watch this.

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