© Senator/Central

The Brothers Bloom
U.S.A. 2008

Opening 27 Aug 2009

Directed by: Rian Johnson
Writing credits: Rian Johnson
Principal actors: Rachel Weisz, Adrian Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi, Robbie Coltrane

From the get-go, The Brothers Bloom is fast-paced, side-splitting fun through and through. Humble beginnings propel Bloom (Adrien Brody) and clever older brother Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) to live life creating their self-ordained reality. A virtuoso, Stephen concocts complex stories that he and Bloom live out. However Stephen has not reached his pinnacle where, “The perfect con is where everyone gets just what they’re looking for.”

Fast-forward 25 years: these captivating scoundrels stay one step ahead of their marks, until Bloom tells Stephen, “I only live life through these roles that are written for me, and you write them.” Bloom wants out. Stephen convinces Bloom to do one last grand scam; their mark is lonely, eccentric New Jersey heiress Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz). The brothers devise an elaborate plot, and Penelope takes the bait. Ingratiating himself Bloom asks Penelope about her life… “I collect hobbies” should alert him that their wacky plan is not going to overcome her.

Together with the brothers’ sexy “associate” Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), the four take off on an exotic far-flung adventure that stretches from Athens to Prague to Mexico to St. Petersburg. On the ocean liner to Greece, even The Curator’s (Robbie Coltrane) abrupt appearance only feeds Penelope’s craving for more of this exciting life. St. Petersburg presents a past protagonist: Diamond Dog (almost unrecognizable Maximilian Schell). Bloom begins to ascertain that perhaps, this con will have overwhelming consequences.

Rian Johnson’s intelligent, quirky script, combined with his astute direction whereby he collaborates with his cast and crew, delivers the ultimate in storytelling. Brody, Ruffalo and Weisz are in fantastic harmony; add Coltrane, Kikuchi and Schell and the result is a film that shifts with impeccable timing between comic farce, magical rationality and moving drama. Steve Yedlin’s cinematography splendidly frames and captures the shifting moods as well as joins in the characters antics. The film’s originality extends to Nathan Johnson’s capricious music, and with Gabriel Wrye’s editing we shift easily through the fantastic scenarios. This second film from Johnson has a unique spin reminiscent of the Coen brothers’ best work and is contagious — you cannot help but walk out with a smile on your face. To quote Penelope, “We’re going to live like we’re living the best story there is in life. Are you ready”? (Marinell Haegelin)

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