Friday, January 24, 2014

The Brothers Bloom (2008) [PG-13] ***

Bloom (Adrien Brody) and his older brother Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) have been confidence men all their lives; they excel at swindling the rich out of millions with elaborate plots of intrigue and lust. Now, though, after twenty years of living various roles and lies, Bloom would like to retire, to live the unwritten life. But Stephen, the creator of their incredibly inventive cons, or stories as he calls them, isn't ready to quit, and he tricks Bloom into pulling one last con, involving Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz) a beautiful and eccentric heiress with a penchant for collecting hobbies and wrecking new, yellow Lamborghinis.

The con involves Bloom and Stephen pretending to be antiques smugglers. Together with Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), their female explosives expert, the brothers lure Penelope into their con until the Curator (Robbie Coltrane), ostensibly a mark in an earlier con, reveals their true identities to Penelope. At that point the bored, jaded Penelope begins to fantasize about being an antiques smuggler herself, and practically demands that they allow her to participate in their plot to steal an illuminated manuscript from a Prague museum at which the Curator is employed. Gradually, however, Bloom begins to fall in love with Penelope, (which we suspect may have been Stephen's plan all along) and he becomes unsure whether he's participating in a con or a romance.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson, the story takes place in a fantastical world of clever, rapidly-paced tricks, stylish romance, thrilling suspense, lighthearted whimsy and witty dialogue. The directing is inventive, and the performances from Brody and Ruffalo are excellent. Rachel Weisz, not to be outdone, learned to play several instruments, to ride a skateboard, to juggle and break-dance, all for her role as Penelope. Up until the last five minutes, the story could be described as quirky and entertaining. However the last scene takes a much darker, more somber turn which completely destroys the lighthearted mood so carefully and lovingly created; it's a letdown as disappointing as the ones found in Patch Adams, Pay It Forward and Message in a Bottle. This is a film that fairly cries out for an upbeat, positive alternate ending. 

Labels: adventure, comedy, crime, drama, romance, tragedy

Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 55/100
Tomatometer (critics=66, viewers=64)

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