The Brothers Bloom
Rated PG-13; Directed by Rian Johnson; Starring Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kukichi, Robbie Coltrane, Maximilian Schell
Director Rian Johnson made a surprising hit with his first feature film, Brick, a film-festival favorite. With his second movie, The Brothers Bloom, he keeps up the good work and comes up with a quirky, but entertaining heist film. With an excellent cast, some lovely surprises, and interesting locations, Johnson creates a worthy movie that overcomes its rather messy last act.
We are introduced to brothers Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody). Excellent con men, the brothers have learned the fine art of conning people since childhood. Now Bloom is tired of this career choice and wants to retire, but Stephen has one last big con to pull and needs Bloom’s help. It seems there is a reclusive heiress who is a perfect candidate for conning. Yet when they enter Penelope Stamp’s (Rachel Weisz) life, things don’t go quite the way they expect.
The fun in the movie comes from our expectation that we will also find ourselves conned by the filmmaker. Yes, twists and surprises happen, but all is fair when making a quirky movie. The plot has a great set-up and the characters are fun to watch. Adrien Brody with his sad-sack attitude is perfect with Rachel Weisz as the awkward heiress. It’s not surprising that the two fall in love. Mark Ruffalo, playing the main schemer, is the one we wonder about – his Stephen may have met his match against the dizzying Penelope. Certainly Stephen can’t stop Bloom from getting too close to her.
The dialogue is fast and fun, and narration by Ricky Jay adds to the sly tone of the film. Rinko Kukichi as the stylish and non-talkative Bang Bang, the explosives expert, plus Robbie Coltrane as “The Curator” help maintain this tone. The movie moves along at a smart pace, giving the characters a chance to let us know that we can’t assume anything about them. It is too bad that the movie loses this smartness in the last third of the film.
With so many things going on in the script it is hard to tie it all up, and Rian Johnson can’t keep all the balls in the air. The light tone becomes heavier and things get confusing, especially as Maximilian Schell enters the story as Diamond Dog, the brothers’ mentor.
The Brothers Bloom is an interesting and fun movie, especially in the early scenes. Though it goes off track near the end the film still deserves attention. A heist movie mixed with comic romance, off-kilter characters, and some fun twists and turns, The Brothers Bloom misses out on excellence due to problems in wrapping up the plot. Rian Johnson is lucky; his sophomore attempt is still entertaining. It makes one wonder what he’ll do next.