The Brothers Bloom

2009-07-07 08:44
Brothers Bloom

What it's about:

Brothers Stephen and Bloom (played by Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody) are two career con artists. When the younger Bloom threatens to ‘go straight’ after a life spent pretending to be someone else, Stephen sets them one last challenge, to swindle eccentric heiress Penelope (Rachel Weisz). But when Bloom begins to fall for his mark, the plan takes a weird turn that sees the gang head on a European adventure that will see the gang go against their former mentor and arch enemy, Diamond Dog.

What we thought:

Director Rian Johnson is a bit of a maverick, and The Brothers Bloom is only his second feature film. His previous effort, the cool noir thriller Brick was set in a high school and was smarter than its intended audience could give it credit for.

Bloom is a much lighter film that brings to mind the boho chic of Frank Oz’s 1988 caper Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, in which Steve Martin and Michael Caine play competing con men living the high life on a French island.

The Brothers Bloom sets itself apart with a style all its own. Steeped in old world Euro glamour that incorporates bowler hats, stove pipe trousers and a trip aboard a steamer across the Atlantic, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was all taking place in some bygone era. But that spell is broken as soon as Penelope is seen crashing her (one of many) Lamborghini into a statue. Much of the action takes place in ancient cities like Prague and Montenegro, and the locations add to the fact that Bloom is one of the most beautifully designed movies of the year thus far.

For a movie about con artists, The Brothers Bloom doesn’t dwell too much on its central plot but lavishes in its own eccentricities, like the gang’s muscle, a mute Japanese woman named Bang Bang, played with relish by Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi. What she lacks in speech she makes up for with a knack for blowing things up and drunken karaoke performances.

Its in its central trio that the Bloom finds its true heart. Weisz is captivating as the loony but lovable Penelope, a woman who lives a lonely life collecting hobbies and proves a real asset to the brothers. Brody and Ruffalo make a fantastic pair of misfit brothers. Ruffalo, in particular, is one of those actors on which you can depend and he doesn’t disappoint as the cool and collected brains of the operation. He doesn’t get nearly as much credit as his more awards-gilded co-stars, but in him Johnson has found the brooding adventurer that made Marlon Brando something of a household name.

However, the movie much more than a stylistic coup. The relationship between Stephen and Bloom is warm and reassuring, even as they are trying to swindle their way out of another mess. And with crisp writing and a masterful cast, The Brothers Bloom is well worth your time.

Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Weisz are good enough to eat in this quirky, smart and fun movie about a gang of con artists.

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