Monday, 10 August 2009

REVIEW: The Brothers Bloom

Rian Johnson's Brick was one of the more interesting indie films of recent years, a hard boiled noir set in the confines of a Los Angeles high school, it made an offbeat star in Joseph Gordon Levitt and an interesting new talent behind the camera in writer/director Rian Johnson. His delayed and at this point belated follow-up is similar both in its strengths and weaknesses to Brick, although it is a very different movie. Whilst that was an ode to the Humphrey Bogart's and Richard Widmark's, this film is more of a homage to the slick caper's of Cary Grant and the ilk. Movies where crime was all glamorous locations, sharp suits and labyrinthine cons. Crime as put by the most die-hard romantic. The Brothers Bloom isn't a great movie, and there's definitely some missteps and flaws involved, but its also a fun movie, one that harks back to films that just aren't made anymore.

The plot follows brothers Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody), as they go about conning and lying there way into infamy. But Bloom has grown weary of all the fabrications, and longs to feel something real and so Stephen agrees to cut him loose on the one condition that he helps him nail an eccentric millionairess (Rachel Weisz) or her fortune. And so the double-crossing and narrative two step begins. Johnson's plot weaving skills are perhaps not his strongest attribute, and the succession of cons and after cons aren't quite as impressive as other films that have attempted this kind of thing. But the film gets a pass because whilst it isn't quite as cunning as it should have been, it is definitely as charming. It has all the swagger and cool required, but somewhat refreshingly its also really funny and made me laugh much more then I would have expected going in. Johnson's script rarely passes up the chance for a good joke and if your film is funny then a lot will be forgiven and that's certainly the case here. A lot of that goes down to Johnson who possesses a much stronger wit then one could have known upon seeing Brick. But also down to Rachel Weisz highly affable performance and her creating of a character that wins you over more consistently and effectively then anything else on display here. Weisz has definitely come in to her own in recent years and for the few people that do see her in this you will be only further impressed. She certainly steals this movie. The rest of the cast is not without its perks, Adrien Brody is OK as the straight man of the piece, Mark Ruffalo holds a strong screen presence as Stephen and fills the role more effectively then one might expect. Also an enjoyable performance in mime by Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi, who steals many scenes despite saying next to nothing.

Johnson's weakness with plot does threaten to capsize the film a couple of times, but the charm of the film and the strength of its acting and the amount of laughs scored means the movie is saved.

Rating: 6/10

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