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Broken Flowers (2005)
Rated R

Starring: Bill Murray, Jeffery Wright, and Sharon Stone

Rating:
**
out of
*****

In Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, Bill Murray plays Don Johnston, a rich man who once made a career of "computers and girls". As his most recent girlfriend (Julie Delpy) leaves him, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover that reveals that he has a 19-year-old son who may be coming to find him.

He shows the letter to his neighbor, Winston (Jeffery Wright), who devises a plan to find out who wrote the letter. Don feigns that he's not interested in finding out but accepts Winston's plan. Winston books a trip, complete with airline and car rental reservations, that will take Don to visit the four most likely candidates.

Ever since his eye-opening role as Bob Harris, the lost-in-himself actor in Lost in Translation, Bill Murray has perfected the art of playing an emotionally detached character who discovers a need to connect with someone. Whether it was the explorer Steve Zissou or himself in Jarmusch's 2004 Coffee & Cigarettes, Murray has been a quirky, lost soul on-screen officially once too many times with Broken Flowers. That's not to say that Murray is bad in this movie. Actually, he's the best thing about it. It's just that there's only so many ways to present this version of basically the same character and make it interesting.

Although Murray is good at what he does, it's the script that lets him down here. As melancholy as the movie tries to be, the characters just aren't convincing enough to make it all work. I wanted Don to connect with someone, but we're not really told why he's so fond of being alone or single or whatever. The audience is forced to judge Don's past based on the reactions he gets from his former lovers, which range from open-arms acceptance to indifference and outright repulsion. Don himself is like a closed-book. At the beginning of the film, he seems to have lost the will to care about anything. At the end, he seems to want to connect to anyone who will have him. Sorry, but I didn't make that jump with him as I watched the movie

Murray's next project is another voicing of Garfield, the cat, for a sequel to 2004's Garfield: The Movie. Let's hope he finds something better for the film beyond that.

Trivia: This project's working title was "Dead Flowers". (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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