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Bill Murray’s wealthy lothario takes baby steps to maturity in Broken Flowers

Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: This Is 40 and Amour have us thinking about getting older.

Broken Flowers (2005)
Bill Murray reigned as comedy’s favorite pre-Apatow man-child for ages before Rushmore elegantly ushered in the mature phase of Murray’s career. Aging figures prominently in many of the icon’s most recent films, but never more so than in Jim Jarmusch’s achingly melancholic comedy-drama Broken Flowers, which casts a dour Murray as a wealthy lothario who has made it deep into middle age without having his lonely existence weighed down or enriched immeasurably by a wife or children. Murray is finally inspired to leave a big, empty home that doubles as his emotional fortress of solitude when he receives a mysterious anonymous letter from a long-ago lover who gave birth to his now-adult son without telling him. 

This inspires Murray to embark on a road trip through the back pages of his eventful but ultimately empty romantic history, as he reconnects with an eclectic string of ex-girlfriends that includes Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, Tilda Swinton, and Frances Conroy in pursuit of the identity of the sender of the mysterious letter and a son he’s never met. The melancholy drama of Broken Flowers is written on Murray’s impeccably wrinkled, craggy stone-face, a deadpan mask that nevertheless betrays sadness and regret over a life rich in sexual conquests, girlfriends, and wealth, but short on meaningful relationships beyond a friendship with the mystery-loving father and husband next door (the great Jeffrey Wright), whose warm, family-based life throws the hollowness of Murray’s existence into sharper relief. Murray makes some baby-steps towards maturity here, but it may be too late for a bachelor with more miles behind him than in front. 

Availability: Broken Flowers is available on DVD and on Netflix Instant.