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Broken Flowers Reviews

Perhaps the most mainstream film of Jim Jarmusch's career, this rueful road movie sends an aging lothario in search of the ex-girlfriend who may have borne him a son 19 years earlier. Don Johnston (Bill Murray) has always been lucky with women — lots of women — and an entrepreneurial venture involving computers has left him financially set for life. But he's stuck in emotional neutral, living with younger girlfriend Sherry (Julie Delpy) in a handsome house so devoid of warmth and individuality it could be a model home. His neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), is his best (and probably only) friend, a relationship clearly born of proximity and nurtured by Winston's warmth and expansiveness. When Sherry packs her bags and leaves, Don responds by falling asleep on the couch; her longing for something more from their relationship — children, connection, purpose — is as mysterious to him as the inner life of clouds. Don's reaction to the bombshell that arrives in his mail — a pink envelope with no return address and an indecipherable postmark, containing a typed, unsigned letter claiming that Don has a 19-year-old son who may be looking for him — is equally disengaged. But Winston loves a mystery, and Winston loves fatherhood. He's not about to let Don ignore the possibility that he has a child and works out a game plan, right down to the day-by-day itinerary. All Don has to do is show up with flowers at the doorsteps of four former loves: aging good-time girl Laura (Sharon Stone), whose brittle optimism has been sorely tested by life; former flower-child Dora (Frances Conroy), now a buttoned-up realtor who sells prefab McMansions with her husband (Christopher McDonald); high-powered lawyer turned "animal communicator" Carmen (Jessica Lange); and angry biker-chick Penny (Tilda Swinton). Once inside, he'll look for clues — a typewriter, family photos, a particular fondness for pink — anything that might give away the letter writer's identity. Former goofball Murray, who's aged into a glacial icon of chilly sadness, is the perfect vehicle for writer-director Jarmusch's brand of detached, hipster cool. Don's trip down memory lane takes him through a series of anonymous towns, suburbs and rural backwaters, all carefully stripped of identifying signs; by the time he gets to Penny the map is mostly white space, a bleak chart of inner emptiness. The film ends on an ambiguous note that will infuriate some viewers and strike others as the only possible finale to Don's sad absurdist journey.