Directed by Jim Jarmusch, starring Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton and Julie Delpy.
Dumped by his most recent girlfriend (Delpy), millionaire Don Johnston (Murray) receives an anonymous pink letter, telling him he has a 19-year-old son. Not one to dwell on the past, Don disregards it, but his friend Winston (Wright) thinks otherwise. Winston reckons this is a chance for Don to play private investigator and view the letter as a sign to bring about some changes in his life. Don is reluctant, but Winston won't take no for an answer and when Don gives him a list of his old girlfriends from 20 years ago (Stone, Conroy, Lange, Swinton), Winston organises a full itinerary for him so that he can go and visit them all. And so begins one man's quest to find the answer to a question he's not really sure he wants answered.
A prize-winner at Cannes, and something of a surprise minor US box office hit (thanks in no small part, one imagines, to Murray's Oscar nomination for 'Lost in Translation'), the slow-moving 'Broken Flowers' has its moments but could have been so much better.
It begins so promisingly, with Murray's deadpan Don Juan being harangued by Wright's eternal optimist, but as the central character's road trip and visits to old flames continue, the film becomes less engaging. Of the four visits, Stone's is without doubt the most enjoyable and there's an argument that she should have featured more in the movie - the well-acted scenes with Conroy, Lange and Swinton just leave you wanting more of her.
If you're someone who likes a film to end with everything in its right place, 'Broken Flowers' isn't for you. Determined that the ifs, buts and maybes should remain exactly those, Jarmusch leaves plenty hanging here and, in some ways, that seems like the easier way out. Do people want to learn? Or are they happy with what they don't know or think they know? They're big questions and deserved better answers. Maybe this film's problem is that it wears its American Indie credentials too proudly, when drifting towards the mainstream would've reached and touched more people.
Few can articulate the waiting-for-the-punchline feeling of being human as well as Murray. It has become his trademark, but in 'Broken Flowers' it's too recognisable - effortless when it needed to be something more. We've seen variations of it recently in 'Lost in Translation' and 'The Life Aquatic' but, just like the character he plays here, Murray needs to push himself further.
Missed opportunities galore and, in that sense, as close to real-life as you can hope to see on the big screen.