Moving, mirthful and minimalist, Broken Flowers is a bittersweet treat from indie great Jim Jarmusch. The writer/director has reunited with his Coffee And Cigarettes star Bill Murray, who plays Don Johnston (no, not that one), a crumpled lothario who receives an anonymous letter telling him he's got a 19-year-old son. So who's the mommy? Spurred on by his neighbour (the terrific Jeffrey Wright), Don embarks on a whistle-stop tour of four old flames (including Sharon Stone and Jessica Lange) in a bid to find out...
It's easy to imagine Broken Flowers' premise being wasted on a Martin Lawrence vehicle, where there'd be wacky montages, pat homilies and a tidy resolution. That's not what you get here. Jarmusch takes things slow and subtle, reaching a destination that's filled not with answers but with deep, lingering emotions.
And along the way are some equally memorable laughs. The droll, deadpan Murray is funny simply sagging on the sofa. But what makes the movie special is the chemistry with his formidable leading ladies: racing widow Sharon Stone (whose nymphette daughter provides one of the film's biggest jaw-drops); hippie turned square Frances Conroy; 'animal communicator' Jessica Lange; and angry biker chick Tilda Swinton.
Each brief encounter is ripe with loaded looks and understated details that say more than words ever could. Some might find it all too low-key for their taste, while others may complain that there's not enough screen-time for each actress. Many, though, will discover that in this sad, sparkling gem, less is much, much more.