Brothers Bloom Teaser Offers Vital Lessons For Young Con Men
Welcome to a very special edition of Movieline's Two-Minute Verdict, this time taking on the epic, seven-minute proportions of this opening clip from The Brothers Bloom. As director Rian Johnson explains in his introduction, the film features Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as sibling con-men looking to grift the wealthy Rachel Weisz out of at least some of her riches. Alas, you will have to wait until May 29 to witness those exploits; for now, we have only the young brothers' origin story, a nifty (if essentially nonsensical, conspicuously derivative) short film on its own.
Bloom has had a bit of a troubled tour out of its Toronto '08 premiere; reviews have been mixed at best and its studio, Summit Entertainment, didn't exactly inflate expectations with its push-backs to early summer (opposite Up and Drag Me to Hell... not good). But anyone who saw Johnson's sterling debut Brick -- love it or hate it -- can't deny the guy deeply loves and gets filmmaking craft. Here it's clear that he's upheld something of his style without necessarily building on his vision; you've got your little schemers Stephen and Bloom laying the Big Plot groundwork, bounced from foster home to foster home and town to town before realizing that their salvation may be found in crime.
Or at least the whimsy of crime, which Johnson amplifies through lots of widescreen, wide-angle set-ups. It owes much to Paul Thomas Anderson's introduction to Magnolia, right down to the Ricky Jay narration. (Jay's presence also recalls his David Mamet affiliation, reinforcing Bloom's con creds even further.) The Coens are in here too, particularly the quick-cutting, comic-criminal rationalization that opens Raising Arizona.
But it's a useful enough trip even without playing Spot-the-Influence. Who wouldn't want to daydream in these woods, or, ahem, scam a mark on meadows so lush? Brody, Ruffalo and Weisz aren't generally ones to screw things up on their own, and Johnson is anything but incompetent, so what's the worst that could happen from here?
UPDATE: Hulu has a bit of hiccup here. But! The technology is a little more cooperative at /Film, where the clip is viewable in full. Apologies for the redirect...