Thursday 3 June 2010

The Brothers Bloom (The List, Issue 657)

In 2005, writer/director Rian Johnson transplanted ‘40s film noir to the modern high school and came up with Brick, an exhilarating debut that announced his arrival as a filmmaker of singular vision in no uncertain terms. For his follow-up Johnson had access to a bigger budget and some bigger names, but the convention-twisting spirit of his debut remains, and in The Brothers Bloom he offers a light-hearted spin on that favourite of cinematic sons, the con man. As in Brick, much of the film’s success comes from the well-chosen casting, with Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody balancing humour and heart as the titular tricksters, and Rachel Weisz staying just the right side of kooky as the eccentric millionairess they target for the time-honoured ‘last job’. Even a brief appearance from Robbie Coltrane as, of all things, a Belgian art dealer, hits the spot.

The emphasis is on comedy, and Johnson punctuates his shaggy dog of a story with clever visual gags and several laugh-out-loud moments that owe a debt to some (charmingly acknowledged) silent classics. While the near two-hour running time comes close to testing the patience, the story pays off with a final twist of melancholy that’s surprising and touching.


General release from Fri 4 Jun. This review first published in The List magazine.

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