A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's plenty to delight teens in this charming, irreverent crime dramedy, even if the material verges on the mature. It explores the complex relationship between adult siblings -- in this case, con men who lie and swindle for a living -- whose paths have begun to diverge. Expect some salty language (including "s--t") and violence (including gun use, explosions, and severe beatings). But ultimately it's more lighthearted than not and genuinely moving.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) are brothers who've mastered the art of the con. Stephen devises their scams with a literary mind, paying homage to famous writers as he crafts his setups; Bloom is his main actor. Rejected throughout their childhood by one foster parent after another, they found solace in cons that allowed them to be somebody else on their way to someplace else. But now that they're grown-ups, the deception wears on Bloom, who walks away from what he thinks is their final production. Then Stephen finds him and presents him with one last pitch: luring a reclusive, orphaned heiress (Rachel Weisz) away from her New Jersey mansion and milking her for millions. Little do they know that she's ready for a grand adventure....
Is it any good?
Lyrically told and lushly photographed, the film could easily have turned out frivolous, stylized, and forgettable -- a jaunty travelogue/heist movie. But thanks to writer-director Rian Johnson, it's dense and satisfying, eager to mine emotional truths from characters who are master fibbers. Credit a script that, though sometimes crowded with trickery, isn't afraid to be complicated. The storytelling is masterful, and the movie's romantic in a way that most heist movies aren't -- the love story is just as important, if not more so, than the scams. (Make that love stories: The central brotherhood is an involving examination of familial love.) In the movie, Bloom describes the perfect con as this: "Each one involved gets just the thing they wanted." THE BROTHERS BLOOM, then, is the perfect con. The actors get to flex their muscles, the director gets to make a memorable movie, and the audience gets to hop aboard a bewilderingly beautiful ride.
Brody reminds audiences why he won the Oscar (for The Pianist) with a performance that's full of nuance and meaning, and Ruffalo manages to balance humor and drama in a role that a lesser actor might have approached with too much showmanship. And Weisz? She mesmerizes. As a shut-in ready to take on the world, she's eccentric but profound, maddening but likable. It's easy to see why Bloom is smitten. By the movie's end, you will be, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie compares to other heist movies. What do those kinds of films tend to have in common? Families can also discuss the characters' relationships and what they learn. What do the brothers get out of their scams? Why do they feel differently about it later in life? Do they love each other? How does Stephen continue to act like the older brother later in life?
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