Broken Flowers

Not Recommended. This is a story with a powerful moral theme that I think is hindered by an immoral element that destroys the very morality of the story itself. A great premise of Bill Murray, a lonely lifeless eternal womanizing bachelor, who receives a letter in the mail telling him he has sired a son that is now 19 years old by one of his past conquests. But the mother does not tell him who she is, so he is left wondering. He is pushed into a plan by his next door neighbor, a family man, with a loving wife and kids, to seek out his ex-girlfriends and try to figure out which one it is. So Murray goes on a cross country trip to visit each of several woman who he may have dated around 19 years ago. As he visits each one, we see each of them, living wasted lives, that it is implied HE has been of some cause. Sharon Stone, plays a white trash woman who sleeps with anything that moves, and has no real heart connection, not even with her daughter, who is a small version slut of her mom. Jessica Lange has become a lesbian kooky new age “animal communicator” who thinks she is a Dr. Dolittle with animals. Another one has become a lonely consumer lifestyle suburban desperate housewife married to a loving but empty real estate salesman. And another has become a rural crude white trash biker’s chick. And the beautiful dramatic aspect of this filmmaking is how Jim Jarmusch, the writer/director communicates the emptiness of each of these women’s lives, and indeed, Murray’s life as well, almost entirely through looks and visuals. Almost NOTHING is spoken of their misery or despair. You can see it in their eyes and reactions to him. They have all had their lives sucked out of them, and he has no life left in him. No emotion, no heart or zeal for reality. He’s a living personification of Hugh Hefner. And then, he becomes haunted by this search for a son. Every young man he sees in each town, looks as if he could be his son. When Murray gets back home, having failed to figure out which one it was, he discovers a drifter that he assumes is his son, but when he reaches out to the kid assuming he is his father, the kid runs and we see he isn’t. And Murray is left literally, on a crossroad, with nothing, and having not found his son. He is unredeemed. He is entirely alone and without any connection. It is, in fact, a tragedy. The kid had asked Murray for some philosophical advice and Murray told him, “The past is gone, the future isn’t here yet. So this is all there is, the present.” And you can’t help but think that this existential worldview is the driving force of such selfishness. Living for the moment is part and parcel of the destruction of human connection and relationship. It is supreme selfishness that destroys life in yourself and in others. It’s a beautiful testament to the despair and emptiness of a promiscuous life. A life that can find no intimacy, and therefore no human connection. A life that begins with “fun” and sexual experiences, but ends in complete isolation and insignificance. A touch of irony is thrown in, when the family man neighbor says he is helping Murray find his ex-girlfriends because he believes Murray “understands women.” In other words, the grass is greener syndrome makes the people who do know the normalcy of intimacy with a wife and family actually mistakenly assume that men who are able to bed so many women must know women. They do and they don’t. They know how to use and manipulate them, but not how to know them intimately. Promiscuous womanizers don’t really know the meaning of love and therefore the beauty and comfort of normalcy in marriage and relationships. It is the “boring” lifelong commitment that finds intimacy and true human connection. The trouble is that we too easily take it for granted, and this movie makes that point. The reason why I cannot recommend it though is because there is a full frontal nudity shot of a girl who is supposed to be a teen slut hitting on Murray. Murray runs from it, but the damage is done cinematically. I don’t have a problem with the concept of such temptation or depravity in a movie, but the filmmaker shows full frontal nudity for a girl that is supposed to be a teenager (though, obviously, the actress could not legally be a teen). So, in effect, the filmmaker imitates child pornography in the making of his movie, which effectively destroys the moral import of the rest of the movie. There are limits to the appropriate depiction of sin, and this movie, by imitating child pornography, stepped over that line. I think it is more autobiographical of the dark fantasies of filmmakers, like Jarmusch, than it is a does of “reality,” as they might claim.

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