Release Date: August 5th, 2005 (NYC-Loews Lincoln Square and Angelika Film Center) by Focus Features.
The Cast: Bill Murray,Jeffrey Wright, Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy
Directed by Jim Jarmusch.
BASIC PREMISE: After Don (Murray) receives a letter from a mystery lover from his past that informs him that he has a son, he sets out on an adventure to find her.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: With such a talented ensemble cast of talented actors and actresses, it is very easy to be entertained. Every actress plays a significant role despite their brief appearances. Julie Delpy plays Don's girlfriend who leaves him at the very beginning. Not the best performance of the film, but nonetheless convincing. Then there's Sharon Stone, who finds the right balance of sexual-longing and loneliness without over-acting. Lolita, her 18 year-old daughter, is hilarious and bizarre with her open sexuality--she walks naked in front of Don. Next, there's Frances Conroy who also gives a strong performance as a rich, spoiled housewife who refuses to truly welcome Don back into her life. The same happens with Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton. Lange's character is an animal communicator---the scene where she uses her communicating skills on a cat is quite funny. The script is exceptionally well-written in the way she rejects Don. Finally, there's Tilda Swinton who appears so briefly that it is pretty much a cameo. With her dark hair and trashy look, she is the most aggressive and scary ex-girlfriend. Perhaps it's a good thing that she's no longer with Don. Bill Murray's performance is, as usual, laid-back and tranquil--not unlike his performance in Lost in Translation. The plot is inventive at times, such as when Don has to look for the color pink in each girlfriend's house and ask whether or not they have a type-writer. The real mystery is not who wrote the letter, but whether or not Don can learn from his past and, possibly, become a better lover. The cinematography is very good as well as the musical score. The final 10 minutes are unpredictable and surprisingly gentle. The very last shot of the film is reminiscent of the last shot in the film Safe--both show a lot without much being actually said.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It is very moving to watch Don not only go through a physical journey, but a mental journey that ends up meaning a lot to him. Whether or not he finds any concrete answers is irrelevant. What is important is that he confronts his past and tries to overcome it. Deep down he is very lonely despite all the girlfriends he had. It is not clear whether or not he has truly learned something valuable from his inward journey that would make him a better lover. However, one this is for sure: he has a friend (Wright) who set him out on his journey in the first place and provided him with addresses, maps, and even some music for the road. Although he might not have a lover, at least he has a good friend. The ending is satisfying despite that it does not provide any closure. The journeys in life itself do not always have--or need--closure.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
THE BOTTOM LINE: A very moving, well-directed film with a brilliant script that is full of subtlety, gentle humor, and boasts a very talented ensemble cast.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "B" Menu