The Brothers Bloom: You Can’t Con an Honest Man

July 28th, 2009 by Nathan Atnikov

One of the movies in rotation this week at the Globe Theatre on 8th Avenue is The Brothers Bloom, only the second film from writer/director Rian Johnson. It’s the story of the world’s greatest con-man tag team, brothers Stephen and Bloom – their last name is never actually mentioned in the film, so I’m not sure if his name is really Bloom Bloom. The story, though, is not really about their clever schemes, but moreso about the tumultuous relationship between the brothers. Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) is in love with the conning life and is always hatching new plans. Bloom (Adrian Brody), who is the star of Stephen’s masterpieces, is looking for meaning in a real life. Their two opposing worldviews collide when they meet Penelope (Rachel Weisz), who Stephen sees as a mark and Bloom sees as a potential salvation from his life of lies.

How the story develops from there should be obvious, but it’s not. Until the last minute, Johnson keeps the audience guessing between what’s real, what’s fake, and who’s telling the truth. Every character is at once smarter and dumber than we think; they all seem astutely aware and completely oblivious to what’s going on around them. It’s an intriguing movie, and what makes it even more enjoyable is the unusual approach of both the writer and the actors. The Brothers Bloom is an absurdist comedy dressed up as a suave adventure story, where the actors are called upon to be completely ridiculous, but with knowing winks that imply a deeper understanding.

Occasionally, the audience isn’t given enough credit for being able to follow the story – certain imagery is overused and plot points are over-explained – but The Brothers Bloom has a unique enough voice to forgive its flaws.

Theatrical Trailer on You Tube

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