In the follow-up to his astounding film Brick, Rian Johnson goes a little less serious for his sophomore feature-length effort but makes a film just as rich and compelling. Johnson attempts to explore the almost ludicrous and funnier side of life that few of us will ever be able to comprehend…the life of a con-artist. The Brothers Bloom is a quirky con-artist flick that is just as witty as Brick but is funny, funny, funny. In most instances where the trailer is more exciting that the movie itself, this is the rare occasion where the polar opposite is true. The trailer below doesn’t do this film the justice it deserves…which is probably why I missed it when it was making headlines in 2008.
The Brothers Bloom is smart, has tons of style and is quite endearing. Funny because that’s not usually the case for a so-called con-artist flick. However this isn’t your run of the mill, double-crossing, uber serious con-artist film either.
As much as I like the film, I have to say, for the first 10 minutes I was a little skeptical – cutesy little back story, then some weak fake accents, and a narrative that seemed to undermine any seriousness of the film brought about by the brothers’ years of conning. But once Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo‘s characters began sharing the scenes (beginning with that hysterically subtle coffee creamer scene) I didn’t mind one bit. Especially when you find out the boys were taught the art of the con named Diamond Dog (who looks like he escaped the Zoltar Machine from BIG).
While it’s never flat-out said in the film, The Brother’s Bloom are nearly the world’s premier con-artists who specialize in separating high society “marks” from their money. Yet they do it all with the flair comparable to say, The Marx Brothers. Another point of distinction is that for as good they supposedly are, they aren’t the smartest, they just happen to be a little smarter than the people they’re conning and I find that funny. That said, the movie plays out like a case of the blind leading the blind. Basically it’s just a hell of a ride and it all works.
While other con-artist films go for a big “ah-ha” ending, this movie was less about the end goal and more about the journey. The movie is quite gorgeous to look with its lavish sets and timeless locales. It really does feels like an adventure film and it really does bring a worldly atmosphere to it all…lot of work for a comedy, wouldn’t you say? The Brothers Bloom succeeds because of the incredible back and forth between the wildly different and eclectic characters. Those characters were personified by the simply fine acting by Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo and a surprising comedic turn from Rachel Weisz. I never would have guessed that such a mixed bag of serious actors could pull this all off but their chemistry is some of the best I’ve seen in a while!
Next, aiding in the comic banter was a series of British styled character sight gags which is more about subtly. It rings true that old adage that more can be done with less. That subtlety was no more exemplified than by the abundant cuteness of Bang Bang (played by Rinko Kikuchi). With a likability that nearly made me have a crush on her, I thought she just stole every scene. Just when the movie needed some more humor, here comes Bang Bang with some silent comic gold. I found myself rewinding every scene she was in to see it again.
So while this probably won’t go down as The Godfather of con-artist movies, it is certainly the most fun caper flick that I’ve seen in a while. It’s charming and most of all quirky as all get out…I loved every minute of it.
G-S-T Ruling – 4/5
G-S-T Seal of Approval – GRANTED