Next on Netflix: All my ex’s
I saw a movie recently about someone trying to figure out the true parent of their child from a set of old lovers from way back when. And it wasn’t “Mamma Mia!,” though when I described this movie to someone who hadn’t seen it, I realized they sort of had the same plot.
But “Broken Flowers” is a bleakly funny movie by Jim Jarmusch that involves fist fights, animal psychics and mystery novels—and no ABBA music.
Don (Bill Murray) is a successful retiree who doesn’t seem to have a lot going on anymore. He’s spent his life in relationships that never work out, and his current girlfriend has just left him. He receives an anonymous letter informing him he has a son who’s almost 19 years old, and has no idea who it might be from.
Though he’s content to forget the letter, his neighbor Winston, who loves detective stories, insists that Don try and solve the mystery that has presented itself. Don narrows it down to five possibilities, and reluctantly sets off on a journey to figure out who is the mother of his child.
Each former lover is different. One is a closet organizer with a promiscuous daughter, another is a depressed realtor, a third can supposedly communicate with animals, the fourth is living on biker commune and the fifth has been dead for years.
There’s a lot that goes unsaid as Don pays his visits to each of the women, leaving the viewer to wonder exactly how he met all of these people, and what their relationships were like.
The combination of vague awkwardness and nostalgia is familiar to anyone who’s met up with an old ex.
The further he goes on his journey, the more you feel you’re watching a real person with secrets that you’ll probably never find out. Why do some of his exes hate him? Why do some of them still love him? It’s left unclear.
The cast is absolutely excellent. The exes are played by knockout actresses like Sharon Stone, Tilda Swinton and Jessica Lange. Winston (Jeffrey Wright) is the perfect, overly-eager foil to the melancholy Don.
I won’t ruin the ending and tell you what Don does—and doesn’t—find out. I’ll just assure you that it doesn’t end with “Dancing Queen.” It’s just not Jim Jarmusch’s style.