Monday, October 19, 2009

When I grow up, I want to be a character in a Rian Johnson movie.

I saw Rian Johnson's first film, Brick, a few years ago. Brick was an interesting movie. Modern and anachronistic at the same time. It's a movie I keep wanting to watch again and kick myself for not having done so.

It was largely the strength of Brick that led me to watch The Brothers Bloom. And I'm glad I did. It turns out that it's one hell of a fun movie.

Bloom and his brother Stephen are con men. They have been since they were mere lads. Stephen is the brains behind the cons. He is the story teller. His belief is that the perfect con is one where everyone gets what they want in the end. Bloom is the younger of the two and a shy boy. Through Stephen's stories, he's able to talk to people and be friends with the other kids. The process, however, leaves him crippled. He feels like he's unable to interact with people outside of a 'story'. As a result, he wants out. He leaves and tells Stephen not to try to find him.

Three months later, Stephen shows up at his door. He has an idea for one last story. One perfect con. A con where everyone will get what they want. Bloom returns to New Jersey with Stephen to listen to his pitch.

Penelope is a very rich woman who never leaves home. From a young age it was thought that she was allergic to everything and was never allowed out. It turned out though that she was allergic to the needle that used to test her. Being stuck inside left her with few social skills. It did give her time to amass an incredible collection of hobbies. Stephen's story is for Penelope. It a story where she is swept off of her feet and on an globe trotting adventure rife with smuggling, conspiracy and intrigue.

You get the feeling early on that Penelope knows that she's being conned. Yet, she never lets on or really seems to mind. She enjoys the ride. She truly has the time of her life. Bloom, however, is falling in love with her and feels guilt and remorse at involving her in Stephen's scheme.

The story is told in a way that, as the viewer, you're constantly introduced to the various layers of the con. Something will happen to make you think that the bothers are going to be exposed, only to end up being a part of Stepehen's story. It makes you wonder at all times how much Stephen actually planned out, right up until the end.

The thing I love about Rian Johnson's characters is that they seem to exist outside of time and place. They're slightly anachronistic. The Brothers Bloom is set in modern times, yet they look a bit like old west snake oil salesmen. They never feel out of place though. They fit into this world that Johnson has created perfectly, and never for a second are the events too outrageous to be believable. It's easy to buy into this world. This is a credit not just to Johnson's writing, but the actors as well. No one feels miscast and they all are able to inhabit their characters as though they were being themselves.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Bang Bang. Bang Bang is the brothers' silent (literally) partner. Rinko Kikuchi is able to play this character so well that you never really feel that her silence is out of place. Bang Bang knows what's going on at all times and is as integral to Stephen's stories as anyone else could ever be.

There is nothing that I didn't like about this movie. Nothing. All I can do know is encourage everyone else to see it as well.