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Broken Flowers is a 2005 comedy-drama film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and produced by Jon Kilik and Stacey Smith. Its main actors are Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy, and Mark Webber.

Plot

The main character, Don Johnston (Bill Murray), is a former Don Juan who wants to live in quiet retirement, having made a small fortune in the computer industry. He is content to lounge around watching old movies and listening to classical music. His current girlfriend, Sherry (Julie Delpy), is ending their relationship and moving out of his house when a letter in a pink envelope arrives. After she walks out, he reads the letter; it purports to be from an unnamed former girlfriend, informing him that he has a 19-year-old son who may be looking for him. Initially Don doesn't intend to do anything about it, but his busybody neighbor Winston (Jeffrey Wright), who is a mystery novel enthusiast, urges Don to investigate. Winston researches the current locations of the five women most likely to have written the letter, gives Don the information (along with maps, MapQuest print-outs, and air flight reservations), urges him to visit them, and tells Don that he will drive him to the airport the next morning.

Ultimately he meets with four women, each encounter worse than the last:

  • Laura (Sharon Stone) works as a closet and drawer organizer and is the widow of a race car driver. She has a teenage daughter, Lolita (Alexis Dziena), who flirts outrageously with Don. That night, Laura sleeps with Don.
  • Dora (Frances Conroy) is a realtor. Once a "flower child" of the 1960s, she is deeply melancholic, resigned to being miserable in her marriage to Ron (Christopher McDonald).
  • Carmen (Jessica Lange) works as an "animal communicator." Don recalls how she was formerly so passionate about becoming a lawyer. But "passion is a funny thing," she says. She is cold to Don.
  • Penny (Tilda Swinton) lives in a rural area amongst bikers. She holds a grudge against Don for some reason. When Don asks her whether she has a son, she becomes enraged, which results in one of her biker friends punching Don out. He comes to the next morning in his car, in the middle of a field, with a nasty cut near his left eye.


Don then stops at a florist to buy flowers from a friendly and attractive young woman named Sun Green (Pell James) who bandages his cut. He leaves the flowers at the grave of the fifth woman, Michelle Pepe, who Don originally thought might be the mother before finding out she had died five years prior. (Earlier Don told Winston he had loved Michelle — his only mention of love throughout the film.) As he kneels at her gravestone he softly says "Hello, beautiful."

Disillusioned, Don returns home where he meets a young man in the street (Mark Webber) whom he suspects may be his son.He buys him a meal, but when he remarks that the young man believes that Don is his father, the young man becomes agitated and flees.

As Don looks on, he notices a Volkswagen Beetle drive past. A young man in the passenger seat — played by Homer Murray, the real-life son of Bill Murray — is listening to the music which Don himself has been listening to throughout the film. Both the young man Don buys lunch for and the one in the car are wearing track suits like Don's. The young man in the car holds unblinking eye contact with Don while the car drives on and away.Don is left standing in the middle of the road.

In the end, none of the mysteries posed by the film are resolved. Don ends his journey no closer to discovering which of the women wrote the letter, and there's even a suggestion that Sherry sent the letter to cause Don an existential crisis. It's unclear whether the young man in the Volkswagen is Don's son, or if Don has reached a point where he'll wonder whether every boy he sees might be his son. The last moment has the camera spinning around Don's head (a full plus a half rotation) with a blank expression on his face.

Cast

Don Johnston with Laura (Sharon Stone).


Production

The film's working title was Dead Flowers (as seen on the clapperboard in the "making-of" film in the DVD's extras). The film is dedicated to French director Jean Eustache. In an interview, Jarmusch said he felt close to Eustache for his commitment to making films in a unique and independent fashion.

It was filmed in Rockland Countymarker and Westchester Countymarker, New York, as well as in New Jerseymarker. In agreeing to do this film, Bill Murray set the conditions that it would only take six weeks and that he was never more than 60 miles from his home in Rockland County, New York.

Director Jim Jarmusch generated the writing that would be on the pink letter, by asking each of the four female leads to write a version of the letter from the point of view of their respective characters. He used an amalgamation of those four letters in the finished film, "using pieces of their own language."

Release

Broken Flowers opened August 5, 2005 in the US in a limited release.

Awards and nominations

At the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or and won the Grand Prix.

Lawsuit

Screenwriter Reed Martin sued Jarmusch in March 2006, claiming that the director stole the film's concept from a very similar script that had circulated among several people eventually involved in the production. Jarmusch denied the charges and stated in response that Martin's claim has "absolutely no merit." On September 28, 2007, a Los Angeles federal court jury rejected Martin's claim that Jarmusch and Focus Films stole the screenplay from Martin.

Soundtrack

The soundtrack to the film features an eclectic mix of music, chiefly using instrumentals by Ethiopianmarker jazz artist Mulatu Astatke as the main score, mixed with garage rock (The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Greenhornes, Holly Golightly), stoner metal (Sleep), soul (Marvin Gaye), rocksteady reggae (The Tennors), and classical (Gabriel Fauré's Requiem).

Track listing

  1. "There Is an End" (Holly Golightly with The Greenhornes) - 3:05
  2. "Yegelle Tezeta" (Mulatu Astatke) - 3:14
  3. "Ride Yu Donkey" (The Tennors) - 2:03
  4. "I Want You" (Marvin Gaye) - 3:57
  5. "Yekermo Sew" (Mulatu Astatke) - 4:03
  6. "Not if You Were the Last Dandy on Earth" (The Brian Jonestown Massacre) - 2:49
  7. "Tell Me Now So I Know" (Holly Golightly) - 2:02
  8. "Gubèlyé" (Mulatu Astatke) - 4:35
  9. "Dopesmoker" (Sleep) - 3:57
    • Abridged version of 63:31-minute track.
  10. Requiem in D minor, Op. 48 ("Pie Jesu") (Oxford Camerata) - 3:30
  11. "Ethanopium" (Dengue Fever) - 4:38
    • Instrumental, composed by Mulatu Astatke
  12. "Unnatural Habitat" (The Greenhornes) - 2:08


Other songs in the film

Several songs in the film are not on the soundtrack album. They include:

References

  1. Homer Murray at Internet Movie Database (retrieved on December 14, 2006)
  2. [1]
  3. Kahn, Joseph P. July 3, 2006. "Shattered dreams", Boston Globe (retrieved via International Herald Tribune on August 28, 2007).
  4. City News Service


External links




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