21 October 2008 | laraemeadows
The Archer Fish of Cinema
The Brothers Bloom unwinds the story of two confidence men, an Asian sidekick and their rich but isolated mark. The Brothers Bloom is a charming off kilter dramedy about love.
Bloom (Adrien Brody) and his brother Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) work as confidence men with their explosive sidekick Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi). Tired of the life, Bloom tells his brother he's done. His brother talks him into one final con against Penelope Stamp (Rachael Weisz.) Penelope is a rich, eccentric shut-in who has yet to live. They take advantage of her loneliness in a scam meant to satisfy her need for adventure.
Rian Johnson sees the world in The Brothers Bloom the way an archer fish sees bugs. The archer fish hunts bugs above the water's surface by shooting water at the bug from below the water line. When looking up from underneath everything looks like it is one place but actually is in a slightly different place because water refracts light, changing the view for the submerged. The archer fish has to see things slightly cockeyed in order to get the archery right. Rian Johnson took a slightly crooked approach to get the cinematic physics just right.
Penelope Stamp is the Robin Hood of cinematic archer fish. Everything about her life, her development, and her emotions are delightfully off balance. She isn't brilliant but she had dedicated herself to learning how to do many strange and obscure things. It wasn't good enough for Rian Johnson to make Penelope interested in pinhole cameras (a camera made by putting a piece of photo paper in a light-tight container and poking a pin hole in it to expose the paper), it had to be a pin hole camera made of a watermelon. Johnson made sure Penelope is beautiful, but by casting Weisz, made her an interesting beauty.
It isn't just the nature of the characters, but also how they talk. Johnson commits so fully to this strange-ified world, that dialogue that would warrant a call to the loony bin in real life, seems natural in the world created in The Brothers Bloom.
The downside to making the characters fit so naturally in their world is jokes or emotions that might resonate deeply in our world sometimes fall a little flat in The Brothers Bloom. There are no gut busting jokes but occasionally the audience finds themselves chuckling. Cheeks will not be soaked in tears, but occasionally a frog may find way into the throats of the viewers.
The Brothers Bloom is an endearing quirk-filled film sure to whisk the audience away on a flying crime filled love carpet.