A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the protagonist is a devout bachelor, now middle-aged, who has left behind many women. Characters use curse words (mostly in conversation, and at the end, during a fight), smoke, drink, and use drugs (as well as slang for drugs, especially marijuana). Stereotypical bikers briefly assault Don at the end, leaving him bloodied and unconscious. The film includes sexual imagery (a post-sex morning awakening, an adolescent girl nude [not explicit] and in her underwear) and references (to past relationships).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
BROKEN FLOWERS follows aging lothario Don Johnston (Bill Murray) as he comes to terms with his life and likely legacy. A technophobe millionaire, Don is more a vacancy than an emotional center. He first appears seated on his sofa, watching Douglas Fairbanks in The Private Life of Don Juan, as his girlfriend Sherry (Julie Delpy) leaves in a huff. But then he gets a letter, on pink stationery, with no return address or signature, saying he has a 19-year-old son who may or may not be coming to look for him. He's prodded by his next-door neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), devotee of detective stories and the internet, who takes up the case as one to be solved. Based on a brief list of Don's old girlfriends' names and long-ago addresses, Winston arranges flights, motels, and rental cars, hands his friend an itinerary, and sends him forth to discover his progeny.
Is it any good?
Organized into a series of vignettes, Jarmusch's minimalist melodrama doesn't build a narrative so much as it deconstructs the idea of narrative and the sense that a life leads to clear resolution. Don might be indifferent, pained, even remorseful about his serial abandonments, but it remains hard to tell.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the combination of regret and curiosity that motivates Don's effort to find his son. How does the film suggest that his self-understanding as a "Don Juan" is necessarily changing as he grows older? How does each woman reflect a different aspect of his personality and the variety of his desires? How do their fates suggest alternatives to his own? (In particular, how does the "animal communicator"'s desire to keep her dead dog with her in spirit a means to put off or deny death?) How does looking back on life provoke remorse or desire for change?