Review: ‘The Brothers Bloom’

the brothers bloom poster

“I think you’re constipated in your soul,” Rachel Weisz says to Adrien Brody before going into an orgasmic fit at the oncoming thunderstorm in Rian Johnson’s second film, The Brothers Bloom. That was the peak of Weisz’s eccentric and electric role as Penelope, the mark of Adrien Brody’s Bloom and Mark Ruffalo’s Stephen Bloom.

Ruffalo’s Stephen Bloom is the storyteller, the man with the set-up, writing all the key roles and setting up the players. Brody plays Bloom, (Bloom?), the heartthrob, the bait if you will, that gets the women the men con. Tired of having a scripted life setup by his brother Stephen, Bloom sets off to live “a life that is unwritten.”  Just to be lured back into one final con: to get what everyone really wants.  The mark is Weisz’s Penelope a shut-in “rich bitch from New Jersey,” as Brody says.

The con is to swindle Penelope out of her bottomless treasure trove of riches in the name of getting a priceless book, which is really mostly scrap paper. The plan is to include her in the action. Through this, Stephen the storyteller introduces us to the world that he and his brother interact with including a cast of colorful characters such as Robbie Coltrane’s farting Belgian The Curator, and Maximilian Schell’s Diamond Don, and the brother’s nitroglycerin expert Bang Bang played with Chaplin-esque silent comedy by Babel‘s Rinko Kikuchi.

That setup really is just a con to get everyone involved. The perfect con, or as Ruffalo likes to say, is “to give everyone what they want.” To give Penelope an adventure, to live a life to which all of her separate and unique abilities can be put to use, and to give his younger brother a good life with a woman he can live with.  This is literally the sole purpose of Stephen’s final con-to give everyone what they want, including himself with heart breaking results.

The award-winning cast members play to their strengths throughout the film.  Weisz’s Penelope is the electric shock in this production, she is lovely and weird, out there, and fun all at the same time. A reckless driver who runs her Lamborghini into countless structures just to be replaced by a brand new yellow-colored car moments after, Weisz easily gives the quirkiest and most unique performance I’ve ever seen her in. Rinko, the silent but deadly explosives artist Bang Bang, rhythmically and quietly lends perfect silent comedy throughout the entire film.  I was laughing the most throughout the entire film with her expressions and reactions. 

Brody’s face always seems to be stuck in a perpetual state of angst, and in this role Director Johnson plays that up perfectly.  Ruffalo lurks in shadows and seems perfect for the Prague setting. He is the perfect con man playing everyone involved and he is, lovingly so, as he says in the end in a burned out theater outside St. Petersburg, that the only audience he ever needed as a storyteller was his brother. That moment sold this older brother.  Ruffalo teaches Brody’s character that ultimately living an unwritten life is useless, and the only life you can have is a badly written one.

This movie is anything but badly written.  If you’ve seen Writer/Director Rian Johnson’s first film Brick, this movie is quite different from that. With hidden gems of dialogue, mostly emanating from Weisz’s mouth, this movie is quite different than the brooding, high school noir that was Brick which had to be one of the best written scripts in years.  (You can download it for free on Johnson’s website, and I highly recommend you do). The slight criticism that people may express is that it’s a little “Wes Anderson-y.”  But on a very base level, where you can say Anderson’s films are quirky for the sake of being quirky, these characters are quirky in a Wes Anderson kind-of-way but its rooted in character and sold by stellar actors.  What I would compare it to, as a film, is an early Coen Brother’s film Miller’s Crossing, in which I was expecting Schell’s character to start doing cartwheels out of a burning building like Albert Finney.

The Brothers Bloom premiered in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend but opens nationwide May 29th. I can only hope that this movie continues to get great reviews and does well, because Rian Johnson needs to make more films.

GRADE: A.

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