Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz
Bloom: You don’t understand what my brother does. He writes his cons the way dead Russians write novels…with thematic arcs and embedded symbolism and s***. And he wrote me as the vulnerable anti-hero…and that’s why you think you wanna kiss me. It’s a con…
Stephen (Ruffalo) and Bloom (Brody) started out as con men early in life. Stephen is the brains behind most of the schemes, and Bloom is tired of playing the characters that Stephen thinks up for him. Bloom wants something real. Stephen convinces him to do one last con with him, and Penelope (Weisz) is the mark. It’s a complicated con, and Penelope ends up being a much more interesting and unusual mark than they expected.
I really really liked this movie. It’s energetic (for most of its running time), funny, interesting, romantic, and even touching now and then. Everybody seems to be having a blast making it, especially Rachel Weisz. She’s as charming as I’ve ever seen her as the somewhat loopy Penelope. She’s a lonely woman, rich via inheritance, living in a huge castle of a house. As she tells bloom, she “collects hobbies”, meaning she sees something interesting, then learns how to do it. This leads to a highly amusing montage of her talents, including juggling chainsaws while balancing on a very tall unicycle.
Brody is sympathetic as Bloom, the more passive of the two brothers. He’s played so many roles in cons that he doesn’t even know the difference between real and fake emotions any more. Is he falling in love with Penelope, or is it just acting? I guess you’re a pretty good con man if even you can’t tell the difference.
At first, Ruffalo seemed like an odd choice to me as the more aggressive, genius brother who’s not afraid to get a little violent now and then, but he won me over pretty quickly. He and Brody have a good chemistry that was really needed if this movie was going to work.
The setting all feels like it should be in the 1930s maybe, but then there’s cell phones and Lamborghinis, which place it clearly in a more modern era. I guess the con men theme lends itself more to an older era, so the costumes and locations reflect that. It’s strange, but it adds to the quirky, offbeat tone of the movie.
There’s solid acting, a good script, great visuals (and visual humor), good music, and likable characters. It all adds up to a movie I definitely plan to see again. Admittedly, in the end, the movie does start to get a little too convoluted and loses steam just a bit, but it’s still a satisfying conclusion to a great story.
You can make a pinhole camera out of a watermelon.
10 – 1.1 because it does get convoluted and overlong near the end = 8.9
Aiden R said:
Glad you liked this movie, got mixed reviews when it came out, but Rian Johnson’s a pretty sweet director and I wanna see this now. Good review and thanks for the heads up.
after i wrote my review, i went and looked at some other reviews. i’m kind of surprised by how negative some of them are. i think they’re picking it apart a bit too much.
i guess i agree with rachel weisz’s character who says sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.
I am very, very happy that you reviewed this movie! It only came to the cheap theaters here, but I absolutely loved it. Of course, any movie starring Adrian Brody, Mark Ruffalo (one of the best character actors working today) and Rachel Weisz simply cannot be bad. And Rian Johnson’s got a long and prestigious career ahead of him, and one I plan to follow very closely.
i’m just happy i finally got to see it. i recall seeing the previews a long time ago, but then it didn’t come out around here, and eventually i forgot about it. then the other day, suddenly there it was on-demand. happy day.
David H. Schleicher said:
I just saw this over the weekend and was surprised how much I liked it. I enjoyed Rian Johnson’s “Brick” but this got pretty brutalized by critics who thought he was some second rate Wes Anderson. I would argue Wes Anderson has become a second-rate Wes Anderson…and Rian Johnson…well, if he doesn’t get too obsessed with the “quirky” bits and style for style’s sake — well, then he’s gonna be just fine being Rian Johnson. He’s one to watch for sure.
Overall, I totally agree with your thoughts here, and yeah, it did get a tad convoluted (but I would rather something be convoluted than dumbed-down or unoriginal).
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