Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Brothers Bloom. B+

After the countless details and confusing story-line in Brick, it's no surprise that Rian Johnson's second feature is an elaborate con movie. And if Brick was inspired by the works of Hammett, then The Brothers Bloom surely draws from classic capers like The Sting. The point of Johnson's debut film was to be complicated, but I felt in that movie he hadn't quite mastered the line between convolution and repetition. But here Johnson almost flawlessly executes the details and weaves them together so that we're only one step behind instead of three or four. The story of two brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Adrian Brody) conning a lonely, wealthy woman (Rachel Weisz) sounds pretty familiar, and yet Johnson manages to keep things both entertaining and fresh. See, his secret is going down the path of nearly every con movie and then surprising us with wild and unexpected turns (you think you've seen the twist and that it's an old one before he reveals another one to follow). Perhaps Johnson indulges in a few too many false climaxes, and maybe his screenplay goes in too many directions. But he clearly has a gift for the serpentine plot and this time around he actually gives us some interesting characters, too. And best of all is the way Johnson chooses to close the picture, which was both extremely clever, very sad, and surprisingly mature.

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