The Brothers Bloom (2008)

“That’s my new favorite camel!”

Kyle’s Rating: things remain status quo

Kyle’s Review: You have to understand that when I say that The Brothers Bloom is not half as cool a film experience as director Rian Johnson’s first work, Brick, I’m still being complimentary. Brick is the equivalent of a glorious, shining star of awesomeness, so “half” of that would still lay waste to every human being on Earth.

Therefore, though I’m all “Compared to Brick, The Brothers Bloom is like a hot steaming plate of ****ing ****ed ****” please understand that that is actually fairly high praise. Can you dig it?

The problem arises, especially among those who are as enamored with Brick as I am, in that The Brothers Bloom is a wholly different kind of animal. I could (and on occasion have) go on for days about the intricacies of the story and plotting of Brick; The Brothers Bloom is much more straight-forward, almost surprisingly so. Though whereas Brick was probably the thing Johnson sweated and obsessed over throughout his academic career, The Brothers Bloom is an established work by a working professional. Not a Hail Mary to gain notice and accolades.

So far I sound somewhat negative, don’t I? Allow me to re-center: The Brothers Bloom is a tremendously fun film, predicated on the idea that while we all enjoy anti-hero grifter types, we especially enjoy grifter/con artists who take great pains to ensure the people getting conned end up happier and more content than they were before they were swindled. Such is the secret and glory of the brothers Bloom, who create cons so elaborate they survive in-film comparison to the convoluted plots of Russian novels, and seem much more concerned with dramatic endings than gaining any kind of money. Imagine The Game with less sinister undertones and a Raiders of the Lost Ark slant.

Spoiled by so many lesser, more slavishly-formulaic con film, I fully expected The Brothers Bloom is a work of insightful innovation to be sure . . . but also one that, regrettably though understandably, would feature a audience-friendly late twist that turned everything we thought we knew upside down. I don’t mean to be a spoiler, but let me say that the lack of such a twist was greatly appreciated. What you see in The Brothers Bloom is basically what you get; no Ocean’s Eleven-esque ‘Here’s what REALLY happened’ rewinding in the third reel. That’s a surprise in itself, yes?

Now I will clam up a bit. Being prepared for the straightforwardness of the story is one thing, but I’ll leave the little subsequent twists and turns of the plot for your enjoyment. Just know that the story, and the characters inhabiting it, remain true all-throughout the runtime, which is perhaps another amazing achievement for such a film. Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, and Rinko Kikuchi create a foursome I would love to see endless sequels of, if possible. The brothers Bloom and the women who love and understand them in their own way are some amazing characters; just as enjoyable in their happy quirks as Brick’s Brendan was in his moody determination. The cameos, a split-second for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a tiny femme fatale scene for Nora Zehetner, were a wonderful little bonus for us Brick-fanatics. All the acting was spot-on, perfectly controlled by an accomplished director continuing to deliver on the promise shown by Brick.

I really can’t be complimentary enough. For either film, obviously. Brick is a pinnacle I can’t imagine being topped anytime soon, but The Brothers Bloom is a triumph worthy of attention as well. A lot of people tend to get turned off by the stylization of Brick; those people should find The Brothers Bloom a much easier film to understand and be entertained by. That’s not always a good thing, especially for a pretentious elitist such as myself, but in this case since quality storytelling is maintained, I have to say it’s all good!

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