Don Johnston (Bill Murray), an aging Don Juan (though you probably guessed that already from his name), has made a small fortune in the computer industry and just wants to spend his retirement listening to classical music and watching old movies. On the day his latest way-too-young-for-him girlfriend (Julie Delpy) walks out on him, Don receives a letter from an unnamed ex-girlfriend who claims he has a 19-year-old son who may be looking for him. Don’s neighbor (Jeffrey Wright), a mystery novel enthusiast, tracks down the five of Don’s former lovers most likely to have written the letter and encourages Don to investigate. Writer-director Jim Jarmusch‘s road trip through a gigolo’s sexual past makes for one of his lesser efforts due to a rambling, unfocused screenplay, but Murray’s underplayed and humble performance makes it a pleasant diversion even when the individual encounters with his ex-lovers (which include Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton) get increasingly more ridiculous and cartoonish — by the time he gets to Swinton as a biker chick (huh?), you’ll have stopped looking for anything resembling real human behavior. The finale is somewhat anti-climactic but also effectively melancholy, making Broken Flowers also one of Jarmusch’s most oddly cynical films.
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