The Brothers Bloom

There is one benefit to my passing out during Looper last weekend, I’ve now managed to see director Rian Johnson’s second feature before seeing all of his third. It’s streaming on LoveFilm at the moment, so if you’re a member, go forth and watch it now, post haste. All being well, I’ll be seeing Looper before this time next week, and next Sunday should see my review.

The Brothers Bloom seems on the surface to be far more straightforward than the high-school-noir Brick and time-travel-brain-twister Looper, but in reality its just as subversive as those two. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody are brothers Stephen and Bloom, two con men who have been running scams since their early teens. Stephen (Ruffalo) is the brains of the outfit, and Bloom (Brody) always takes the leading role in the con. Roughly twenty five years after their first con, Bloom wants to quit, but Stephen ropes him in to one last job, conning Rachel Weisz’s ludicrously wealthy yet decidedly eccentric heiress Penelope from some money she’d probably never miss. Along with their near-mute accomplice Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), the brothers set out to dupe Penelope from her riches, but who exactly is the victim in this game?

This film could very easily have been directed by Wes Anderson in a lot of places, or the Coen brothers in others. There’s a level of quirkiness that I just wasn’t anticipating – a whisky drinking camel, Weisz juggling chainsaws atop an unfeasibly tall unicycle, a pinhole camera fashioned from a watermelon – yet elsewhere it follows all the standard tropes of a genre con-film. What sets this film apart though is, just like Bloom, we’re always kept at arms length from the grand plan, never knowing exactly what the con is, how much is part of it and how far it will go, which is something I generally love about films. I was very nearly very annoyed at the ending, thinking it had copped out of its own premise, but fear not, it wraps itself up very nicely indeed, if given a little time. 

I can imagine this is a film that really rewards repeat viewings, in much the same way Brick does and Looper probably will, as I think there were lots of little details I didn’t pick up on first time around, whilst I was trying to work out where the plot was heading. The characters were great and well played, particularly Weisz in a role that requires her to be distant and embarrassed, yet childlike and inquisitive, which she pulls off magnificently. It would have been very easy to despise her impossibly wealthy recluse, given enough time to master any hobby she takes her fancy to and never having to worry about money, but Weisz humanises what could have been a bag of cliches. She is completely convincing as someone unfamiliar with other people.

The nods and winks to Johnson’s previous film – look out for blink-and-miss cameos from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Nora Zehetner and Noah Segan – aren’t distracting enough to take you too far out of the film, and overall this film, of which I’d heard relatively little in comparison to the amount of hype Looper has garnered, was a lovely little surprise.

Choose film 8/10

8 thoughts on “The Brothers Bloom

  1. Also, I'm insanely tempted to write some comments on my impressions from looper but I don't like influencing someone's expectations when I know they are going to see a film soon. Very much looking forward to seeing your impressions of the film next sunday.

  2. You can have some of the credit, but I had meant to watch it anyway. And I appreciate you not spoiling Looper, I've been avoiding reviews in anticipation. It might not be this weekend, as I'd hoped to go see it yesterday but couldn't manage it, but I will get to the cinema again next week at the latest.

  3. I knew that was Joseph Gordon-Levitt! I rented a copy of The Brothers Bloom from Blockbuster @Home and I’ve held onto it for almost a week now because I haven’t found time to watch it again. I’m glad that there aren’t late fees with my membership because I certainly plan to watch this movie a few times in case I missed anything else. I couldn’t agree more that Weisz does wonderfully with capturing her character, and I think that Adrien Brody did a great job when it came to moments of seeming like a scared little boy. So many of my coworkers at DISH have been telling me that Rian Johnson is on his way to being a well-known director, and from this movie alone I could see that happening. I’m eager to check out Brick and Looper!

  4. Go see Brick and Looper now! They're amazing! (In case my reviews weren't clear enough). Rian Johnson is definitely a talent to keep an eye on, and I for one cannot wait to see what he does next. Glad you liked the film Eliana.

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