The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom (2008, Director: Rian Johnson): I’d been really anti­cip­at­ing this film after see­ing Johnson’s debut Brick (2005) about a year ago, but look­ing at the trailer, I was a little wor­ried that he had strayed too far into Wes Anderson ter­rit­ory. The pres­ence of Adrien Brody rid­ing on a train and a steam­ship and the metic­u­lous (and some­times ridicu­lous) art dir­ec­tion left me think­ing that Johnson was bor­row­ing just a little too much.

After see­ing the com­plete film, I’m still of that opin­ion, but it didn’t make the film any less enjoy­able for me. It helps that I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson. Where Johnson dif­fers is in his full-throttle, go-for-broke style of storytelling. Just as in Brick, you’ll prob­ably either sign on early in the film or you’ll just tune out com­pletely. In my case, Johnson’s sharp ear for dia­logue and his sheer ball­si­ness as a film­maker imme­di­ately put me on his side.

The Brothers Bloom are Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and his younger brother Bloom (Adrien Brody). No, the names don’t really make sense. It’s okay. They’re a pair of con­men who like to live the high life by flee­cing suck­ers out of their money. Stephen is the “author” of the cons and he really does treat each job like a work of lit­er­at­ure. These pro­fes­sional liars make their liv­ing amongst the rich globe­trot­ting jet­set­ters who really only seem to exist in the movies. Bloom is the moony romantic who wants out, and Stephen agrees, if Bloom will go along on “one last job.” It so fig­ures that the last job involves the gor­geous Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz), who is both incred­ibly rich and incred­ibly naive. Predictably, Bloom falls for her. And pre­dict­ably, com­plic­a­tions ensue.

In fact, so many com­plic­a­tions and reversals and lies and double-crosses occur that even at the very end, I was unsure whether it wasn’t all going to be revealed as yet another level of the con, a la The Usual Suspects (1995). But for­tu­nately a real heart beats within Johnson’s whipsmart script, and the movie is sweet and silly and smart all at once. Stephen says it best: the per­fect con is the one where every­one gets what they want. In my opin­ion, the whole film is a clever meta­phor for film­mak­ing, and even though Johnson is mak­ing it all up, every­one gets to go away happy.

Official site of the film

Here is the Q&A with dir­ector Rian Johnson and act­ors Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz and Mark Ruffalo from after the screen­ing:

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Duration: 8:15

The Brothers Bloom
Director and stars at the premiere


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3 Responses to The Brothers Bloom

  1. danny bloom says:

    did you notice that Brody’s BLOOM char­ac­ter has no first name? See my take
    here: And join in on th fun if you wish and nom­inat a name or blog on
    this con­test. It’s just for fun.

    i loved the movie!

    “The Brothers Bloom” — Contest to give Adrien Brody’s char­ac­ter

    Yup, you read it right, this is an Internet con­test to give Adrien
    Brody’s char­ac­ter “Bloom” in the movie “The Brothers Bloom” a first
    name! For some odd reason that only writer/director Rian Johnson can
    answer, if any­one ever asks him …

  2. The film is now sched­uled to open in Toronto on Friday May 22nd. Not sure which theatre(s) yet, but watch for it!

  3. Here in Canada, E1 Entertainment has released The Brothers Bloom on DVD today. Special fea­tures include com­ment­ary with dir­ector Rian Johnson, over 35 minutes of deleted scenes, and some mak­ing-of fea­tur­ettes. I’m look­ing for­ward to giv­ing this another view­ing.

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