I was in Dallas over the weekend and got to see Jim Jarmusch's latest, Broken Flowers. I really liked the film as it is a deceptively simple story (as a lot of Jarmusch films are), is peppered with lots of wry comedy, utilized little camera movement and has long, slow passages. In many ways, Jarmusch's style fits in with foreign filmmakers as he doesn't dwell on story resolution, plot twists/gimmicks or by blowing stuff up like a lot of American directors. If you have the same taste as I do, this is a good thing.
Broken Flowers tells the story of a man (Bill Murray as Don Johnston) who finds out he might have fathered a son 20 years earlier after receiving an anonymous letter from an ex-lover. Urged on by his mystery loving neighbor Winston, played by the talented Jeffrey Wright, Johnston goes on a quest to find the woman and the son.
It's a very simple premise and what follows is a loosely connected series of re-connections with people long lost in the fabric of life. Some of the meetings are comical, some are sad and some are extremely uncomfortable. All of them are painted with Jarmusch's love for everyday moments of life. From the shots inside the various houses of objects to the great p.o.v. shots from inside the car as Johnston drives in different parts of the country--Jarmusch has crafted another lean, beautifully spare film. In this day of flashy, show-off, video style directing, it's great to see someone so confident that restraint becomes more striking than any amount of hollow, wham-bam visual theatrics.
Another interesting thing in Broken Flowers is the acting of Bill Murray. Murray is on an interesting roll at the moment by creating these detached characters who often seem at odds with the action that is occurring around him. At times, Murray seems to be in a completely separate film than the actors in the same scene. I'm not sure how far Murray can take this approach--he's used it in various degrees on his last 4 films--but it is interesting to watch.