Bill Murray started out his career in a series of out-and-out comedies, but of late, his work has acquired a real depth and resonance that is missing in his earlier work, as in the 2005 film Broken Flowers, directed by Jim Jarmusch. When Murray’s character, Don Johnston, a retired computer whiz who made a fortune in the early tech era, and who now lives a lonely, desolate life in a sprawling, perpetually gloomy split-level house, receives an anonymous letter from an old girlfriend informing Don that he has a son whom he’s never met, Johnston recruits the help of his next door neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), to figure out who the letter is from.
Winston suggests that Don look up all his old flames who might possibly be the mother of his child, and with some reluctance, Don takes to the road, where he has a series of increasingly downbeat encounters with former lovers Laura (Sharon Stone), Dora (Frances Conroy), Carmen (Jessica Lange) and most brutally, with Penny (Tilda Swinton), who has a friend beat Don up for even daring to visit her.
Throughout the film, Jarmusch’s spare camerawork, coupled with a superb reggae track, along with some evocative incidental music, effectively conveys the angst and uncertainty of middle age, when success is tempered by the knowledge that the clock is running out, and time is of the essence. Murray’s work in this film, Get Low, and Lost in Translation is a whole new level for the actor, who really should have won the Oscar for Best Leading Actor in Lost in Translation. If you haven’t seen it, check it out; it’s a really solid film, with a great deal of depth, warmth, and intelligence.