As the film opens Don has just been dumped by a beautiful much younger lady. Just as he is pondering whether his wealthy player lifestyle is no longer suited to the game, a pink envelope arrives on his door.
The envelope contains a brief letter. The typed letter informs Don of the presence of a son. A son borne of a tryst some two decades ago that is now looking for his dad. Don is apparently the father, though there is no name on the letter, nor a return address.
Don’s neighbour is Winston (Jeffrey Wright), an amateur but super-keen investigator to whom time and effort are no impediment. It is Winston who demands closure, and using sketchy information about Don’s lady-friends of times past, he not only builds a strategy, but a full itinerary including flights, hire cars, motels and maps.
It is almost that Winston feels that the discovery of Don’s ex-baby mama will somehow vicariously grant him his own back-story of sexual adventure.
After begrudgingly accepting the task – as much so as not to appear ungrateful for Winston’s efforts – Don embarks upon a somewhat unique doorknock appeal, stopping in on five former flames from a bygone era.
Sounds a lot like a schlocky sex comedy right? Surely Will Ferrel or Deuce Bigalow pops up somewhere along the line? Nope. Broken Flowers is a deliberate examination of a ‘what if’, though it is not without humour, and Bill Murray is always a delight.
Among Don’s ex’s are Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton and Frances Conroy, finding mixed greetings from each, though his attitude remains ever dry. The film doesn’t bother with silly misunderstandings or delightful coincidences, it remains firmly planted in a possible reality, but while this is refreshing in one way it doesn’t demand that you love the film.
Like Bill Murray himself, Broken Flowers is at times likable and others curmudgeonly, but it doesn’t care whether you adore it or dismiss it. This unwitting aloofness makes it hard to do either, so you might appreciate the film, but you more than likely won’t fall in love with it.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Strange that only a decade after this film is set, Don could have done the same amount of ex-stalking in 15 minutes on Facebook…