Tuesday, June 02, 2009

THE BROTHERS BLOOM: Too Smug For Its Own Good

THE BROTHERS BLOOM (conman adventure)
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi, Nora Zehetner, Robbie Coltrane and Maximilian Schell
Writer-Director: Rian Johnson
Time: 108 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Ruffalo, Brody and Kikuchi as the con team

PREAMBLE: Nobody likes a smart ass or a smug movie. We will tolerate them if they are really smart and interesting. However, when they try to be smart and interesting but fall flat on their ass doing so, it becomes an exercise in self-indulgence.

This is what The Brothers Bloom, directed by Rian Johnson of Brick fame, is guilty of. Unless you love noir comedy and travelogue films, don't get involve.

THE SKINNY: Orphaned at a young age, Bloom and his older brother Stephen have drifted from one foster home to another. They, however, have always depended on each other, conning their school mates of their cash. Stephen concocts intricate stories that Bloom plays out.

Years later, Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) is still searching for the perfect con, the one where "everyone gets what they want." Meanwhile, Bloom (Adrien Brody) yearns for "an unwritten life" - a real adventure that's not dreamed up by his older brother.

Eager to retire, Bloom agrees to one last grand scam with Stephen and his Japanese associate nicknamed Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi). He insinuates himself into the life of Penelope (Rachel Weisz), an eccentric New Jersey heiress, so that they can con of of her wealth. But as the four travel from Athens to Prague to Mexico to St. Petersburg, Penelope becomes addicted to Bloom and the illicit thrills. Soon Bloom begins to wonder if his brother has devised the most dangerous con of his life.

THE CRITIQUE: The Brothers Bloom benefits from an interesting cast, especially Weisz and Brody. As the loony and lonely Penelope, Weisz steals the show with her klutzy driving, sparkling eyes and poor-rich-girl demeanour. Brody is likable as the brooding Bloom who wants to lead a normal life; and Kikuchi must have had a lot of fun playing the explosives-expert Bang Bang - in another almost silent role since Babel.

Con-man movies are best when they con the audience. However, this one does not get us 'involved' in the game - unlike Ocean's Eleven and The Sting. Most of the comedy comes from the foibles of the characters, not from the plot machinations. And like Bloom, we too get tired of the 'encores' - the repeat cons that Stephen tries to pull off.

THE LOWDOWN: The Brothers Bloom is nice to look at but difficult to like.


At 8:40 pm, Anonymous Sara said...

I got to disagree with you, i loved it and its a breath of fresh air, especially with all the bad summer films coming out.

Loved Rachel Weisz's performance.

At 1:49 pm, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

I love Weisz's performance too and it is the best thing in this movie. Anyway, I am glad that you liked it, Sara.

Thanks for your feedback. Appreciate it very much.


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