This was originally posted in my 2008 Toronto Film Festival Recap. The review has been fixed up and re-posted as the film was finally released in theatres today.
The Brothers Bloom
Rian Johnson follows up his brilliant debut film, Brick, with a whimsical tale about two con men trying to pull off one last con. At an early age, orphans Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) devised the perfect 13-part con. The secret to the 13-part con’s success is that everyone involved ultimately gets what they want. After years playing the romantic lead in the cons, Bloom decides he wants out. Bloom is tired of creating hollow physical connections with women and is longing for a more meaningful relationship. Unfortunately for Bloom, Stephen has different plans. With the assistance of brothers mysterious partner Bang Bang (Rinko Kikurchi), Stephen convinces Bloom to help pull off one final con involving a lonely eccentric heiress named Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Things get complicated for The Brothers Bloom when Bloom starts to develop real feelings for Penelope, and Stephen in counters a nemesis from his past. The brothers are soon forced to question their loyalties, relationships and the con game in general.
The Brothers Bloom is a smart and fun film in which its parts are greater than the sum. Although Rian Johnson does a good job juggling both the con and the romance for the most part; the latter half of the film is not as strong as the initial set up. I also felt that Penelope was a little flightier than she really needed to be. For an eccentric woman, who literally has the capability to learn pretty much everything, she has several moments where she comes off unexplainably dim. Also, despite the wonderful vintage clothing, the film seems to take place in a modern day setting. What wrong with this you ask? Normally this would not be a problem but in The Brothers Bloom characters react to situations as if they were back in the 1930’s. Apparently advancements in technology do not exist if at all hinders the con.
Still, despite its flaws, The Brothers Bloom is very charming film and provides many great laughs. All the actors have fun taking their characters to the limit. Especially Ruffalo and Brody, who have great chemistry and wonderful comedic timing. Personally speaking, the highlight of the film is Rinko Kikurchi who steals every scene she is in. Bang Bang is probably one of the greatest sidekicks to hit the big screen in ages. Despite not having any real lines, Rinko Kikurchi brings so much to the role physically that you cannot help but smile every time she is on screen. Based on her facial expressions alone, you could easily picture her in a film with Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin.
For more reviews from 2009 click here