The Brothers Bloom

OK, off-topic just a little bit but the best “mystery” screenplay of this past year was easily, easily, “The Brothers Bloom.

Didn’t see it? Didn’t hear of it? You’re not alone. It didn’t exactly do blockbusters.

It’s this absolutely lovely story of two brothers who are legendary con men. One brother writes these fantastically elaborate cons, and the other just hates every minute of his life. They are played by Mark Ruffalo as the craftsman and Adrien Brody as the brooding dreamboat. (What can I tell you. I’m straight and even I’d do him.)

The reason I bought the DVD is to study the ways the writer/director, Rian Johnson, breaks classical writer rules. Over and over again. He doesn’t break them, he shatters them. For instance:

  • The brothers Bloom are named Stephen and Bloom. That’s right, we never learn the first name of our protagonist. Either that, or his name is Bloom Bloom.
  • Which is interesting, in that the third member of the gang is named Boom Boom. She’s a Japanese explosives expert who specializes in shuffleboard and karaoke, and who can only speak three words of English. Again, Johnson breaks all the rules because she clearly understands every word spoken to her and she jots notes when asked to send a wire to an enemy.

The lovely thing about the mystery of the script is, you can’t tell if the brothers are conning beautiful, reclusive billionaire Rachel Weisz, or if she’s totally on to them and is so bored by life she just doesn’t care.

Also, the intro to the movie – which shows Stephen and Bloom as little kids, in the foster family program, pulling off their first con – is so agonizingly lovely a scene that, from time to time, I pop it in the DVR to watch just that. At first, it looks like the elementary-school-age boys pull off their first heist for money. No. Then, it looks like they pull it off for vengeance. No. Then, you realize Stephen pulled it off to entertain his little brother, whom he loves. As the narrator, the great Ricky Jay, says, “So they had to leave again. But Stephen and Bloom and Bloom had Stephen and, in that, they had more than most.”

Yeah, it’s a mystery. But mostly it’s a comedy about two brothers who love each other.

In fact, I’m gonna watch it again right now.

About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on February 17, 2010, in Blog and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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