Saturday, December 26, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "The Brothers Bloom" (2009)

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Movie"The Brothers Bloom"
Director: Rian Johnson
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Stephen Bloom (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom Bloom (Adrien Brody) are brothers and con-artists who grew up in foster care. They got started at a young age, but after their latest con, Bloom wants out. Eventually,  Stephen convinces Bloom to do one last big con to steal a million dollars from a wealthy heiress named Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Penelope is a bit of a shut-in, and all Bloom has to do is pretend to fall in love with her. But, if he's not careful, he could wind up actually having feelings for her. 

"The Brothers Bloom" is more of an oddball romantic dark comedy disguised as a con-artist thriller. In fact, it is more of the above description than a film about the con itself. We can't even remember it being marketed at all, which to us signals that it's an indie film. This almost always means there will be some sort of indie humor, indie kitschiness, and/or indie darkness involved. From early on, it sets up Bloom, played by Adrien Brody, as a huge romantic at heart. In their very first con as a child, Bloom is told to pretend to like a girl he actually does likes, but he obviously has to suppress his real feelings or give up the con entirely. This is a theme that runs throughout the entirety of the movie and is the real core crux of the story. Bloom is a character that seems to constantly feel sorry for himself because he can't find true love and is always blaming his brother Stephen, played by Mark Ruffalo, for his lack of a significant other. Stephen, on the other hand, is all about the money and all about the con. Despite his seemingly selfish nature on the surface, he's actually the more selfless of the two brothers. Rachel Weisz takes on the role of Penelope, the Bloom brothers' mark. She is a wealthy heiress who lives an isolated lifestyle, but has learned a lot of skills because of it. These skills include juggling, photography, harp playing, many different languages, etc. She is also the would-be romantic interest of Bloom, though he is only supposed to pretend to like her. Her well-learned but naive nature, however, makes it hard for him not to fall in love for real.

The plot is relatively straightforward and is rather predictable, and for a con artist movie, it's rather short on the twists, turns, and surprises, which makes it pretty boring overall. We wanted to like this movie because of the cast and premise, but the overwhelming lack of oomph and charm, despite its good intentions, just wasn't enough to make what could have been an otherwise fine movie more than average. We never felt fully invested or engaged. The only twist is how dark it turns towards the end of the film, teetering towards more of a dramatic feel. Other than this, there is far too much that's too simple for our liking about "The Brothers Bloom." Though Ruffalo, Brody and Weisz do put on good performances, there is a lot lacking elsewhere and it takes a while to get anywhere of significance in the end, which ultimately made us completely forget this film even existed. It's just sort of expected, and we would have preferred it if it were a bit more interesting and surprising to offset any of the aforementioned long, laborious periods of averageness.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 66%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Hachi: A Dog's Tale"

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