The Brothers Bloom is an incredibly enjoyable film that centers on two brothers and their exploits across the globe, as they swindle anyone who comes near them, to great success.
I generally get excited about movies like this, and this was no exception. It has a stellar cast, intriguing director, and happens to be from a genre I love. Heist movies, movies about con artists, for some reason, always appeal to me. The trailer looked quirky, but still real world, and the movie hits a home run from start to finish.
It starts off introducing us to the two Brothers Bloom at the ages of 10 and 13, and successfully lays the ground work for these two characters. Steven, as the master planner, the one writing and planning the cons, and Bloom, the 10-year old who only wants to talk to a cute girl he has a crush on. But through the con he’s forced to betray her for what Steven has his eye on: MONEY.
Money is a great motivator, as well. Flash forward to the current time, Bloom seems disillusioned with the life he’s leading, as he tells Steven that he’s out (something apparently routine at the end of a con for them.) After spending 3 months in Montenegro, Steven tracks down Bloom and convinces him to do just one more con, and they travel to New Jersey plan in place.
This is where we meet Penelope, an incredibly rich shut-in who learns how to do hobbies at her own pace, everything from juggling chainsaws to origami. Bloom’s one task is to not fall in love with her, something he struggles with until he finally can’t control it anymore, as The Brothers Bloom, and their associate Bang Bang,, are in the middle of conning Penelope.
The script is fantastic, from dialogue to settings, to tempo. Everything about it hits the right note at the right time. It’s funny, but it’s not slapstick or obscene funny. It’s real funny. I think that’s a tribute to the skills of the actors, that each of the leads earn laughs in their own ways.
Adrien Brody is a favorite of mine (and not only because we have been described as twins). He has an oddball charm, and as he plays Bloom, you can feel a conflict in his soul between the life he has and the life he wants. And when he’s introduced to Penelope, you really feel his struggle, as he knows they’re playing her, but at the same time, he’s genuinely falling in love with her. But, he wants to give his older brother what he wants, without taking what he himself wants, And Brody plays it with a subtle gusto it’s hard not to really empathize with his character.
Steven, played by the solid Mark Ruffalo, is sort of an antagonist/protagonist rolled into one. It’s a very complex character, and Ruffalo plays his hand close to the vest. You’re never quite sure about Steven, and what’s going on in his mind, and it works fantastically. In a movie like this, you need a character you’re never sure about until the very end, and having him so close to the main protagonist is incredibly effective.
The eccentric Penelope is spun by Rachel Weisz, and it’s hard not to love her. She’s sweet and alone, but she has such an outlook on life that you just want to give her a big hug and appreciate who she is. Weisz is such a chameleon, and she plays comedy very well here. People will know her from other, mostly more serious roles, but she is a fantastic actress all-around. She’s fun and sweet, and unlike everyone else in the movie, she’s pure.
Rinko Kikuchi (The deaf girl from Babel) plays Bang Bang, and she’s entertaining in a minimalist role. She, even more so than Steven, is a complete mystery for the whole movie. She says very little, almost nothing in fact, and her character is strong and loyal.
The four of them make an interesting “team” to say the least, as Penelope gets caught up in the world of smuggling, not quite sure what she’s doing among three others who know exactly what they’re doing.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson is a director to watch out for, as he’s now had two quality outings, coupling this with his previous effort “Brick”. While “Brick” is much darker and even a little bit laborious at times, “The Brothers Bloom” is whimsical and pretty good natured considering it’s centered on a pair of globetrotting criminal brothers.
A fantastic film that boasts a stellar cast, strong script and enigmatic directing, The Brothers Bloom is a rarity of the Summer of 2009. It’s a genuinely good to great film. It’s strongly recommended, and among all the other absolute dreck that’s in theaters right now, it’s a welcomed diversion and a quality one at that.
- Strong Cast
- Logical Script, with playful dialogue
- Beautiful shot composition
- Whimsical without being a farce
- The end feels just a tad stretched out for a few moments, but once all the pieces are in place, it’s far from bad. It’s actually worth that wait.
Score: 8.7/10 (Great)