TIFF Review: The Brothers Bloom

[The Brothers Bloom – Ryerson – Tuesday, September 9th – World Premiere]

Rian Johnson enters a world of glamour after his previous directorial attempt in 2006’s gritty, independently produced Brick; a film that received a lot of acclaim for its extraordinary noir atmosphere (the likes of which haven’t been duplicated correctly in a long time). So we all know Rian Johnson has noir skill correct? He proves it once again in this, a more polished noir film: almost an the exact opposite of Brick in terms of story and structure, only being similar in the noir aspect. The cast is all very known (three of the four main actors are Oscar nominees – the other is very well known regardless) and they all turn top notch performances thanks in part to Johnson, as well as their own talents, of course. Jumping from small to big in terms of spotlight hasn’t spoiled Rian’s talent. No, in fact it may have made it better. With his brother (Nathan Johnson) scoring the film beautifully and heavily contributing to the engrossing spectacle, the brothers Johnson ardently team up to mold this film into a neo-noir for the ages.

Along with directing, Rian Johnson also writes this deliciously well constructed script full of pep, zest and tang (as well as any other taste-adjective that “pops”). His screenplay is reminiscent of films like The Trial (Orson Welles) blended with the dialogue of films such as The Darjeeling Limited. In fact, I’d called this film The Darjeeling Limited meets Noir (man… how much have I said noir?) and it works on the adventure/meaningful level as well as the entertainment level. Johnson is the greatest talent to come out of the last few years and I hope he continues to embark on his love for (sigh) noir in future films.

The Brothers Bloom tells the tale of two brothers who grew up scheming together in hopes of finding purpose in their lives. With this scheming came unity, so although they were orphans, they went home to home in hopes of creating their masterpiece in the thieving community. The opening montage of their early ventures is not only hilarious and darling, but also just flat out brilliant. The first ten minutes are the film’s best ten minutes, but it may also be the best ten minutes put on screen all year. In the earlier stages of the film the story chronicles the lives of the brothers, Bloom (Adrien Brody) & Stephen (Mark Ruffalo), along with their trusty (and silent) sidekick Bang-Bang (Rinko Kikuchi) who likes to blow up things (who could’ve guessed, right?). Stephen comes up with an extraordinary idea (though, we quickly learn he has about a million of them) which is to rob a rich, beautiful introvert of a woman named Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Due to a slight botch in the plan – or so it would seem – Bloom and Penelope become much closer than as predetermined and hoped for. Bloom feels guilty about doing this big robbery on this lonely girl because well… she’s lonely and has no one. From about here on out its kept to Bloom & Penelope’s time together as opposed to the brothers and their heisting ways, as one would hope for. Don’t fret, though. This film is very charming and you’ll love it for it’s unique take on the romantic subgenre alone. So to those still a bit lost: The film is about Bloom and Penelope – it touches on Bloom/Stephen/Bang-Bang several times, but the film is truly about Bloom & Penelope’s love.

The cast does as best a job as possible to keep this film hitting its target throughout, and with such a cast, nothing could ruin this. You’ve got Rachel Weisz and her majestic aura in the most fun role of the year (god, I love her now). You’ve got Adrien Brody in a similar performance to his in The Darjeeling Limited, but more con-like. You’ve got Mark Ruffalo as the most fun, yet cynical & plotting role he’s been in. Rinko Kikuchi as a silent explosives expert (aka: bad-ass). And hell, you’ve even got the lovable Robbie Coltrane in a very confusing role as well. A perfect cast, if I do say so myself – each of the actors just add to the general atmosphere, bringing you along for the ride with them.

Although the film is beautiful, warming, well-constructed, highly entertaining & full of great performances it is missing something. It makes the audience beg for something more in certain areas of the film, and it doesn’t really touch correctly on the love portion… or something like that. I suppose the film is pretty convoluted when it comes down to it, but its a great ride, so I don’t see the issue. There’s just something about the film that didn’t work for me – something major. I suppose it could be the misuse of one of the con-artists and lack of real crime oriented storytelling, but it does wonders as a noir-romance, and I suppose that’s where I should be judging it on most. Regardless, you’ll love it: it’s a blast and it should make many top tens of the year. ***½/****