Today: April 15, 2024

Brothers Bloom, DVD

A hugely enjoyable conman romp that keeps you guessing all the way to the end while pulling on the heartstrings.

Rian Johnson’s brilliant debut Brick (2005) was a film
that took one genre, in that instance a high-school drama, and injected a
healthy dose of another, a film noir detective tale, to brilliant
original effect. For his second trick behind the camera he takes a
con-man setup and infuses it with a dysfunctional family dynamic with a
healthy splash of globe trotting romance. To call him a genre bender
would be a fair assessment of this filmmaker.

Young Stephen (Ruffalo) discovered at an early age that he had the gift of being able to spin a tale. His young brother Bloom (Brody),
in turn, learned that he was only able to interact with other people
when he was pretending to be someone in Stephen’s stories. And so they
chose the logical profession of con-men. But Bloom grew tired of never
being himself and always being the ‘anti-hero’ of Stephen’s cons. So for
their last con, The Brothers Bloom decide to con reclusive millionaire Penelope (Weisz).
The problem is that she may be too clued on to have the rug pulled out
from under her and soon develops a relationship with the equally
reclusive Bloom.

From its opening voice-over, The Brothers Bloom has an air of the Wes Anderson about
it. These are quirky characters in a contemporary yet heightened world.
The burgeoning relationship between Penelope and Bloom is reminiscent
of Hal Ashby’s, himself a huge influence on Anderson, superb Harold And Maude (1971).
There is nothing normal about any of the characters on offer here. They
are designed to be cartoonish in their presentation and all the more
loveable as a result.

Johnson sets the cons up as theatrical performances, many of the
climaxes take place on stages and as such keeps the production design
intentionally exaggerated. Indeed, the characters come to resemble
obvious roles in a production akin to Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006).
In that film the magicians were like the director, they would perform a
trick and only at the conclusion reveal how it was all done. Here,
Stephen is the embodiment of the director. He sets the scene, creating
the con and setting all the actors in their place, before pulling the
rug from under them. Bloom is the actor who must convince the audience
of the peril. As such Penelope is the audience, well versed in many of
the tricks of the trade, she collects hobbies so has an endless fountain
of knowledge, that is always second guessing what the next twist will
be. Add to this Stephen’s sidekick Bang Bang (Kikuchi), who
represents the special effects department, she deals in slight of hand
and explosives, her role it is to up the ante and the danger of the

Johnson directs the affair with a warm energy and a superb sense of
comic timing. While you think you have got the better of The Brothers
Bloom in guessing their next con, Johnson is always one step ahead of
you. The end is an example of the unexpected being exactly what the
audience want, without them ever knowing that they wanted it.

The cast are all on good form. Ruffalo is having fun playing
Stephen with a sense of grandeur but maintaining his dry delivery and
comforting smile. There is a cockiness to his performance that perfectly
lends itself to the confidence that Stephen projects. Brody continues
to dabble in this ilk of film, having appeared in Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited (2007), and is his normal dour self that you cannot help but warm to. There is almost a Rain Man (1988)
quality to him in his childlike demeanour. Weisz, normally more at home
in more serious roles like her Oscar winning performance in The Constant Gardener,
revels in the eccentricities of Penelope. She plays the part with just
enough glint behind the eyes that you know she is more switched on than
first appearances. Top marks should also go to Kikuchi as Bang Bang. A
part that has little to no dialogue in the film she evokes a
Chaplinesque sense of silent comedy making her a hugely appealing and
comedic character.

A film that refuses to conform to the norm, The Brothers Bloom
will keep you guessing, smiling and enthralled from beginning to end.
You won’t feel short changed by these con-men but rewarded by their
heart and swagger.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

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