Broken Flowers Jim Jarmusch

The worst thing about Broken Flowers is that it could have been made by anyone. Had a newcomer turned in this tolerable but standard tale of an aging ladies man (Bill Murray) in search of the woman with whom he's allegedly fathered a son, I'd be apathetically showering it with (faint) praise. But as it was made by Jim Jarmusch, who once awed us with the lyrical, challenging Dead Man, it can only be ruefully dismissed as his most normal, least interesting work. As Murray takes a cross-country trip (with addresses furnished by amateur sleuth neighbour Jeffrey Wright, who does the internet legwork after considering an unsigned note), he has one of those regional odysseys that are familiar from a million indie flicks that run the gamut from the tacky bourgeoisie (dog therapist Jessica Lange, real estate agent Frances Conroy) to the fetid poor (oversexed widow Sharon Stone, rural "trash" Tilda Swinton). One could chalk it up to Jarmusch's standard explorations of otherness, with women being the river to the heart of darkness, except the film treats the prospective mothers with a certain amount of contempt and winds up finding the father/son relationship ideal. That it serves as marriage propaganda doesn't help matters, but by then it's already disappointed you with an American original's capitulation to cuteness. That critics lavished praise on this while ignoring his more demanding work tells you all you need to know about the degradation of critical standards. Extras include a "making of "that's largely Murray cracking wise between takes, an extended scene of teenage girls on a bus, and silent footage of Jarmusch working while his voiceover offers vague rationales. (Alliance Atlantis)