Is it possible to like the fact of a movie’s existence without really liking it?
"Broken Flowers" has a lot going for it. It has Bill Murray as a man named Don Johnston and a bunch of Hollywood queens (in the female royalty sense) and a famous director. And nice music and naked teenagers named Lolita. And the best next-door neighbor ever in Winston, whose accented enthusiasm and habit of talking on the phone as he’s entering Murray ’s house are instantly endearing. But there’s something that wouldn’t let me into the film, and the experience was less than satisfying.
It wasn’t the ending, I don’t think. It’s ambiguous; but so is Don's life and the entire quest which makes up the movie’s meager plot. It’s an esoteric “About Schmidt,” “Lost In Translation” gone even stiller. I don’t have a problem with the facts of this. It may be that Bill Murray has been directed further from his trademark deadpan and into merely dead. He suitably portrays a worn man, bereft of life, but as he is the center of the film and nearly every shot it’s hard to take this journey with him. For was is most accurately described as a kind of road movie, this causes difficulties.
There are nice things about this film. Wonderful things. But is it good? I don’t think so; or at least, it wasn’t to me. It was worth it. It was thoughtful. I’m glad it exists and I’m glad I saw it. And I want to give a shout out to the middle-aged women and man who sat behind me in the theater and cackled, the man uttering the immortal critique: “That Murray can make eating carrots funny.” Maybe if I had been that guy, the movie would have been better.