Before ‘Poker Face,’ Rian Johnson Gave Us the Ultimate Con Movie

Feb 17, 2023

Before Poker Face and the Knives Out films, Rian Johnson gave us his Wes Anderson-esk caper flick, The Brothers Bloom. The director’s gonzo sophomore film centers on a pair of siblings who make a living out of staging highly ornate cons. The Brothers Bloom contains elaborate set pieces and a tone that pole-vaults from lighthearted comedy to moments of serious drama. It’s the wackiest film to date within Rian Johnson’s filmography, and served as an intriguing gear shift for the rising director. Now 15 years old, it’s a film that belies time and place, and remains a readily enjoyable, fast-paced romp that globe-trots from one exotic locale to the next.

‘The Brothers Bloom’ Shows Rian Johnson’s Knack for Great Casting

Image via Summit Entertainment

Rian Johnson has shown a serious penchant for assembling outstanding ensemble casts in recent years. His work inThe Brothers Bloom is not different. This movie contains an abundance of talent behind and in front of the camera. Teaming Mark Ruffalo with Adrien Brody as eccentric brothers who also happen to be lifelong conmen was a bona fide home run. Their styles compliment each other seamlessly, with the former as the irrepressible mastermind Stephen and the latter as the more contemplative Bloom.

Adrien Brody would of course reunite with Rian Johnson for the gripping opening episode of Poker Face. From The Brothers Bloom’s opening scenes (which detail the orphaned Blooms growing up in a fanciful quasi-reality) one is drawn into the immediately original approach to character-building and movie-making on display. Garbed in top hats and Chaplin-esque attire, the chaps’ partiality for innocuous magic and trickery later translates to a skill for full-blown ruses later on in life. Visually in-your-face, The Brothers Bloom is more than a stylistic stone’s throw away from the director’s more muted, haunting debut, Brick – and is an early indicator as to the comedic directions Johnson would go later on his career.

‘The Brothers Bloom’ Features Strong Character Actors

Rounding out the ensemble is a gallery of strong character performers. Rachel Weisz, whose entrance is genuinely funny, jumps wholeheartedly into the role Penelope Stamp. As a hedonistic yet existentially dissatisfied heiress to an enormous fortune, it’s a complete change up for Weisz, who’d shone in a string of purely dramatic roles prior to this film. Here, Stamp’s wealth is unable to account for an overarching lack of purpose; blasé with having everything she desires within reach. Soon enough however, she is utterly bewitched by the charms of the Blooms and their beguilingly dangerous lifestyle, and she opts in to the madness for kicks. Weisz plays a lot of the slapdash moments with a kind of deadpan regality, and it works supremely well. In one wild montage, a series of images reveal all the activities and hobbies she has amassed as a result of having boundless time (such as fencing).

The late Robbie Coltrane enters proceedings as a flamboyant art dealer towards the film’s midpoint, and the Cheshire cat mischievousness he imbues his character with serves as another strong counterpoint. With Maximilian Schell also appearing as a much-maligned former Bloom mentor, and Rinko Kikuchi also offering up comedic value as the impassive ‘Bang Bang’ – a potpourri of interesting characters are brought to life with gusto. Also mentionable, Rian Johnson collaborator Joseph Gordon Levitt cameos in a bar scene. For those vigilant enough, his appearance will be noticed without straining the eyes too much – vintage JGL.

‘The Brothers Bloom’ Tells Its Story With Bright Colors

Image via Summit Entertainment

What also sets distinguishes The Brothers Bloom from other flicks in the Rian Johnson canon is its distinct technical aspects and rapid-fire plotting. And the labyrinthine narrative is indeed convoluted. While many of his other pictures unfurl more glacially, The Brothers Bloom is a cross-country express train whose scenery is ever-changing. Scenes and segments within the film could almost become their own separate vignettes ala some of Wes Anderson’s work like The French Dispatch. From bike collisions on well-manicured suburban roads in New Jersey to Greek bound yachting jaunts or action-packed rendezvous in St. Petersburg churches, the film is a gaudy, energetic collision of colors and is probably the brightest movie he’s made so far. Early in the film, the Blooms are seated on a park bench, their austere black garb a stark contrast to the shifting grey mist and the electric hues of the lively bar scene before. Crafty aesthetics galore – all emblematic of an imagination never at rest.

Wild Mood Shifts Abound in ‘The Brothers Bloom’
Located squarely in the chest of the film, nestled between all the travails, double-crosses and ‘is this real or another con?’ protestations, is a beating heart. The Brothers Bloom manages to touch on the human condition in the midst of its frivolity – that genuine human connection can supersede the need for other gains. That being said, the wild mood shifts that characterize the film cannot be understated.

From classic slapstick to exciting confrontations straight out of a mob film, The Brothers Bloom sure is a dynamic movie. In one of the most comical art heists of recent times, Penelope opts to steal a prized painting after much deliberation. As she navigates a metal air vent overhead which bulges outwards with every slight movement – the camera pans to a cadre of bemused officers carefully watching from below. Vacillating between absurdist humor and genuine high stakes thrills that’d appease ardent spy film fans is a formula that works. And for Grand Budpaest Hotel admirers – more than a few parallels can be drawn here.

‘The Brothers Bloom’ Is Rian Johnson’s Least Categorizable Film

Image via Summit Entertainment

It’s hard to pin down The Brothers Bloom, as the direction one assumes it might be going in is oftentimes not the trajectory after all, many rug pulls occur. We may think the brothers are scrapping over wealth versus risk, but in truth: all could all be part of the master plan. In point of fact, The Brothers Bloom is Rian Johnson’s least categorizable film. In a clever way, the film’s zaniness serves as a metaphor for the art of a well-played con game in itself, nothing is ever as it seems. In combining the best of multiple genres and using a template of rich color and arresting art direction, Johnson succeeds in crafting a weird and joyful little gem en route to modernizing the whodunit via Knives Out. With a barrage of gags and the odd stylized firefight thrown into keep the seesawing plot moving, it’s oftentimes tricky to know what is real and what is artifice.

What’s ultimately surprising is the emotional heft that’s wrung from the film. Brody’s Bloom is tired of being reduced to little more than a pawn in each one of brother Stephen’s games. He yearns to live a life free of premeditation and his developing relationship with Penelope (yearning for an outlet for exhilaration in her own life) sets the course for a touching and credible partnership between the two. Beneath the facades, costumes and general air of game-playing lie characters who suffer the same pains as anyone else. The Brothers Bloom is a wild curio and contains something for (almost) everyone.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
Publisher: Source link

John Wick Chapter 4 4DX Review: Copy and Paste Choreography

It’s the fourth instalment of a franchise that is best known for its fight sequences than its story, script, acting and everything else that makes a film, a film. Switch off your brain and enjoy, here’s our John Wick Chapter…

Mar 24, 2023

The Ghost Lights | Film Threat

NOW ON TUBI! Grab a six-pack of Shiner Bock and a Joe Ely western shirt as we head to Texas for writer/director Timothy Stevens’ well-constructed sci-fi thriller The Ghost Lights. Journalist Alex (Katreeva Phillips) arrives in Dallas for her father’s…

Mar 24, 2023

Unsettling Horror Film Thoughtfully Engages With Insecurity [SXSW]

Written and directed by Anna Zlokovic, Appendage is a grotesque body horror film with a powerful message. It doesn’t take long to get started, with the film quickly introducing Hannah (Hadley Robinson), an up-and-coming fashion designer with a plethora of…

Mar 24, 2023

National Anthem | Film Threat

SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! The debut feature film for first-time director Luke Gilford, National Anthem is a dramatic film of exploration, discovery, and love in the wild lands of the Southwest desert for Dylan (Charlie Plummer), who takes odd…

Mar 24, 2023