Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Perfect Con Makes The Brothers Bloom Magical

I love movies that make me second guess the plot, they come along ever so rarely, that at first I find myself doubting what is happening on the screen. The latest movie with a twist in a twist is "The Brothers Bloom," a movie about the most unlikable con men in along time. We're introduced, by a kind of whimsical narrator to the Brothers Bloom, as children in a town where everything is one this or one that. Stephen, the more inventive one of the duo devises his first con, that works only because he thought out each and every step. This entire section, about five to ten minutes, is brilliant, it's self-contained within itself and brings the kind of energy that is rarely seen in movies today. The Brothers Bloom are probably the best con men in the world, they spend their days swindling millionaires, with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) is the brains of the pair, he scripts out the plots in intricate details that his brother Bloom (Adrien Brody), who spends his time usually being killed in the schemes to rid the wealthy of their cash. The only problem is that Bloom isn't happy, he wants out of the life, but his love for Stephen has kept him coming back time and time again. After the last con comes to an end, Bloom decides he has had enough, he tells Stephen that he is out and that Stephen should just let him go.

Cut to the next step in Stephens plan, getting Bloom on board for his next great con, it seems that Stephen's sidekick Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi) has the ability to find just about any one she wants to. Stephen uses her to find Bloom, when he confronts Bloom, it is to tell him that he has the perfect con, his idea this time involves Bloom showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure while they con her out of a large sum of money. Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz) is the heir to millions of dollars, she lives alone in a sprawling estate in New Jersey, collecting hobbies. At first Bloom is against the idea, he doesn't like the idea of swindling women, but Stephen, who has always been the stronger brother wears Bloom down.

The comedy touches in the movie bring an added touch to the con man movie that has been played out and is rather rusty. When Bloom first meets Penelope, she runs him over, then has an epileptic attack and drives off the road herself. Waking up in the hospital she asks Bloom to drive her home, he of course does and the game is afoot. Bloom mentions that he and his brother are antique dealers and they are traveling over seas for the next couple months, Penelope decides that she wants to join them and meets Bloom on the docks the next morning. Once on the steamer ship Penelope is confronted by The Belgian (Robbie Coltrane), who lets it slip that the Bloom brothers are much more than antique dealers. AS Penelope is walking to her room she is once again confronted by the Belgian and he tells her he has a plan to smuggle out a priceless bible if she can get the Bloom brothers to help him. What Stephen didn't count on was Penelope's inexhaustible sense of enthusiasm and her quick sense of learning the con game. Penelope gets herself out of situations that the brothers can't even fathom and she catches on to things so quickly, it's as though the mark has becomes the professional. She of course can do this because oh gosh that's part of the Stephens con. The con can be seen coming from a mile away, but it is still fun to watch it play out.

And yet, for all the story's twists and turns, its strengths are in the characters. Rachel Weisz is one of the movies bright spots, she can make a scene come alive, you can almost see that she had a blast making this film, it shows in the way she relished her characters' quirks. Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz, play off each other wonderfully as an at-first awkward couple who get further romantically involved The one character that brings an edge to the movie is a certain nefarious figure known as Diamond Dog, (Maximilian Schell). The one fault I had lies in the last five minutes where it's tone abruptly changes for darker, more maniacal. There is a tribute of sorts to an earlier film by director Rian Johnson, this involves a great string of cameos in a bar scene early on with Nora Zehetner, Noah Segan, and Joseph Gordon Levitt all stars from the movie Brick. Clever indeed.

I give The Brothers Bloom a 4 and on my avoidance scale a 0, when all those summer blockbusters are sold out, sit back and enjoy a movie that you will enjoy as much as the fluff that will be showing all summer long. Take the family and relax, this is one movie that will have everyone talking about it for a long time.

The Brothers Bloom is rated PG-13 for Violence, some Sensuality and Brief Strong Language
Running time is 1 hr. 53 mins.

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