is a 2005 comedy-drama
written and directed by Jim Jarmusch
and produced by Jon Kilik and
Stacey Smith. Its main actors are Bill
, Jeffrey Wright
, Sharon Stone
, Tilda Swinton
, Julie Delpy
, and Mark Webber
The main character, Don Johnston (Bill
), 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
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
- 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
- Carmen (Jessica Lange) works as an
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
) 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
Don Johnston with Laura (Sharon
The film's working title was Dead Flowers
(as seen on the
in the "making-of" film in
the DVD's extras). The film is dedicated to French director
. In an interview,
Jarmusch said he felt close to Eustache for his commitment to
making films in a unique and independent fashion.
filmed in Rockland County and Westchester County, New York, as well as in New Jersey.
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
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."
opened August 5, 2005 in the US in a
Awards and nominations
At the 2005 Cannes Film
, the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or
and won the Grand Prix
Screenwriter Reed Martin
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 to the film features an eclectic mix of music, chiefly
using instrumentals by Ethiopian 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).
- "There Is an End" (Holly
Golightly with The Greenhornes)
- "Yegelle Tezeta" (Mulatu Astatke)
- "Ride Yu Donkey" (The Tennors) -
- "I Want You"
(Marvin Gaye) - 3:57
- "Yekermo Sew" (Mulatu Astatke) - 4:03
- "Not if You Were the Last Dandy on
Earth" (The Brian
Jonestown Massacre) - 2:49
- "Tell Me Now So I Know" (Holly Golightly) - 2:02
- "Gubèlyé" (Mulatu Astatke) - 4:35
- "Dopesmoker" (Sleep) - 3:57
- Abridged version of 63:31-minute track.
- Requiem in D minor,
Op. 48 ("Pie
Jesu") (Oxford Camerata) - 3:30
- "Ethanopium" (Dengue Fever)
- Instrumental, composed by Mulatu Astatke
- "Unnatural Habitat" (The Greenhornes) - 2:08
Other songs in the film
Several songs in the film are not on the soundtrack album. They
- Homer Murray at Internet Movie Database
(retrieved on December 14, 2006)
- Kahn, Joseph P. July 3, 2006. "Shattered dreams", Boston Globe
(retrieved via International Herald Tribune on August 28,
- City News Service