Sunday 6 June 2010


Rian Johnson's follow-up to Brick was finally released in cinemas this weekend. More after the jump...

Bloom (Adrien Brody) and Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) are con men. From a young age they've been on their own and had to care for each other, which often involves taking large sums of money from an unsuspecting mark. After Bloom starts to feel burnt out by the process of taking from strangers, he sets off on his own to try and start a new life, but it isn't long before Stephen catches up with him with the proposal of one last hit; the beautiful Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Bloom can't help but be intrigued by this kooky heiress, who soon finds herself part of Stephen's grander schemes to make his fortune.

Rian Johnson made a big splash with 2005's stylish Brick, the tale of a junior sleuth operating within the lawless society of his high school. Anticipation was high about what his next project would be, and there were a few surprised looks in his direction when he chose to expand away from the detective genre to this globetrotting adventure.

Already known as a stylish and original director, Johnson does seem to have borrowed some stylistic elements from the world of Wes Anderson, with the sharply dressed siblings acting too cool for school. This is just a knee jerk observation though, as I'm sure Johnson is just fleshing out his own world beyond the confines of high school fashion. The brothers are a lot warmer and instantly likeable than any of Anderson's characters, and he has never been able to create a female character as complex and rich as Penelope.

Rachel Weisz is captivating as the curious oddball Penelope, never as clueless as everyone thinks she is. She has lived her life as a reclusive shut-in collecting meaningless hobbies, but now through Bloom she has a hobby that could add purpose to her life. She doesn't care about the money she has, it's the adventure she wants, but when she moves over from being the mark to a part of the team, Stephen can't help but be blinded by her wealth.

The brothers are complicated and contrasting figures; Bloom the gentle procrastinator and Stephen always looking for his angle on the situation. He maps out elaborate hoaxes that even when they fail, offer some reward for him and his younger brother. Never do you see them as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, more charmers who could tear down your life and make you happy about it. Rinko Kikuchi as explosives expert Bang-Bang also achieves a lot of screen presence with little dialogue.

Johnson seems to have built upon the early promise he showed in Brick, and captures some beautiful scenery from the streets of Prague and the coast of Montenegro. The Brothers Bloom is also notable for its great score, supplied by Rian Johnson's cousin Nathan Johnson from the Cinematic Underground. It ebbs and flows and is a suitable soundtrack to this energetic romp.

The story is really just a collection of situations, possibly strung together by Stephen as part of a larger masterplan. They do meet other career criminals along the way who further their endevours and when it appears that Stephen is no longer in charge, Bloom can't help but worry that he has become one of the duped, rather than the duper.

As for the brothers, Adrien Brody as Bloom is a relatable lead who just wants to live an unwritten life; something that his brother has always done for him. His burgeoning romance with Penelope is one you root for. Mark Ruffalo makes for a charming bastard. As Stephen states in the film "I have at various points in my life sold sand to an arab and ice to an eskimo", and you can thoroughly believe him. Stephen is the ultimate confidence man, robbing you blind but for a noble purpose. He is an addict though, and needs Bloom to continue his lifestyle.

Although not as enjoyable as the gumshoe drama of Brick, there are double crossings and puzzles to be solved here which come the climax do leave you with one question. Can you kid a kidder?



  1. Good review Colin, but it wasn't for me. I guess it's just not to everyone's taste!

  2. I thought it was fun, and a bit twisty! Never quite sure where you stand with them.