Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Broken Flowers

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Last weekend we saw Jim Jarmusch’s new film, Broken Flowers. Having seen Dead Man and Night on Earth as my first Jim Jarmusch films, this film doesn’t look ‘typical’ to me. Because it looks so light. There’s a lot of daylight in the film as if Jim Jarmusch wanted to get rid of the dark impressions and atmospheres that he left with his prior films, including the recent Coffee and Cigarettes.

Image of postal sorting from the film

The film starts with an ode to the postal service. The protagonist, Don, receives a mysterious and anonymous pink letter telling him that he has a grown up son who might find him soon. So Don, an ageing computer industry retiree who lives a lonely rich life in which his only fun seem to be media, a number of differently coloured track suits and his Ethiopian neighbour Winston whose family he visits regularly for chatting and good coffee, decides to ignore that letter. But Winston gets him to give way to his curiosity and visit the five women who might have sent the letters to find out.

So Don leaves his massive home and posh car behind and goes on a trip across the country and his past in horrible rental cars and motels to visit those women. Each one of them has a story of her own. And each of their lives is very different. We see different environments, different suburbs, different living circumstances, different lifestyles, different philosophies and different kinds of tragedy in the few minutes that Don spends with each of them.

The four women Don visits

And while Don doesn’t learn terribly much about his potential son, he and we can see and learn a lot about different lives. We see four middle-aged women who can easily be imagined to have been good looking girls. And we also see a number of hot girls thrown in for good measure. We see Don who is a ‘winner’ of the American Dream and Winston who is a hard-working and caring hopeful in the same game. And wee see all the different women and what a rich variety of lives they have. After seeing them and not succeeding in his plan, Don concludes that all of it was too much for him. And in a way it was. But the thought of having a son keeps nagging him…

Don sitting on his sofa

A film to see, and to see again when possible. I’m sure there are many things I didn’t catch. I wonder to which extent Jim Jarmusch is obsessed with transportation, a theme that at least appears in some of his films. And I also wonder about product placement. While a bottle of champagne has to be made by someone, do you really have to zoom onto the Moët et Chandon label? And do you really have to have printouts of maps with loads of mapquest logos on them? I tend to think that at least those ‘virtual’ things would be perfectly believable in a film without the logos on them. On the other hand I’d really be interested about the kind of chair in front of Don’s stereo. It looked very comfy.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

September 20, 2005, 0:47

Tagged as broken flowers, film, jim jarmusch.

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