So this weekend I saw “The Brothers Bloom”, a caper movie along the lines of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, only with a little more jaundice. I say “I” saw it because my wife was not around for it, which means I can’t say how long it took her to fall asleep, so I’ll just have to estimate it instead.
“The Brothers Bloom” follows two brothers, only one of whom is named Bloom as far as I can tell (the other one is named Stephen), who are globe-trotting con artists. Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) is the mastermind who concocts elaborate plots to separate marks from their money, and Bloom (Adrien Brody), with his hangdog face, is the one who plays the central role to win the mark’s trust, at least for a while. The two of them have a sidekick, Bang-Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), who steals every scene she’s in despite having only one line of dialog that I can remember. (But it’s a doozy.) When Bloom decides he wants out, Stephen concocts one last, incredibly elaborate con involving a wealthy heiress (Rachel Weisz) who is a sort of reclusive savant — she knows just enough about an incredibly wide range of subjects to either clean up on “Jeopardy” or to possibly be just as good at conning as the con men.
“The Brothers Bloom” has very strong performances, as you would expect from that cast (not to mention Maximillian Schell hamming it up as the brothers’ mentor-cum-nemesis Diamond Dog — it is not made clear if he knows David Bowie). Robbie Coltrane also shows up briefly as a mysterious Belgian; at first I took him as Hercule Poirot, but he isn’t. (I kept waiting for him to hop on a motorcycle and zoom off to pick up Harry Potter, but he never did.)
As is typical of caper movies, there are cons within cons and no one is sure until the very end who is on the level and who is playing an angle. I can’t say that any of the big reveals surprised me, but there were plenty of amusing set pieces, most of them involving Weisz’s character, Penelope, demonstrating some skill no one knew she had, or Bang-Bang demonstrating her skill with high explosives and weapons and her apparent hatred of Barbie dolls. (Whenever Bang-Bang is in the background, pay attention to her, because she is probably doing something funnier and/or more interesting than what’s going on in the foreground.)
As I mentioned, my wife wasn’t around to fall asleep during this movie, but I would estimate she would have lasted maybe 45 minutes or so. She tends to lose interest in capers around the time the cons develop too many layers. (She did make it all the way through “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” once but that was more slapstick than this one.)