Edgar Cochran’s review published on Letterboxd:
Winner of the Grand Prize of the Jury for the first time and nominated for the Palme d´Or for the fifth time in 2005, Broken Flowers follows a very similar tradition of Alexander Payne’s About Schmidt (2002) regarding the adventures of an aged man that makes an undesired journey to discover more about his family bonds but ends up discovering more about himself and the importance of the present life.
Dedicated to Jean Eustache, the superior post-Nouvelle Vague independent filmmaker – even if I humbly think that Stranger than Paradise (1984) would have been a much more honorable and appropriate dedication – Broken Flowers opts for common storytelling techniques that circle around a common story that progresses uncommonly. It is basically a one-man show with very peculiar encounters about the man’s past love life, so its “uniqueness” comes primarily from its subtlety and unpredictability, with its very brief splashes of comedy. There is simply no way to predict how each new encounter will be, and what it will provide to the viewer as an audience and to Don as the protagonist. The film culminates with its best moment, in which this man puts the pieces together and concludes about the transcendental importance of that indivisible fragment of existence called “the present”, which reflects on the past and serves as a precursor of the future. We are nothing but the present, because it is impossible to “be” in any other time and space that does not constitute the present. This change is infinitesimal and nonstop.
Another strong point of the film is how it doesn’t hesitate to depict realistically the disappointment that might come from not obtaining all the answers, and even ironically, from becoming more confused about the situation. However, this confusion is merely attached to the situation itself, which in the film’s case is the discovery of the letter’s author and to find out whether if there is a lost son. However, even if this confusion increases, one has always the option of maturing in one’s life. In this regard, Bill Murray gives away what might be his best performance in his career, and there is, indeed, a character transformation, even if one has to wait 80 minutes for it to happen. The great ending does not correlate so much with the rest of the content, which is comedic or mundane at best, although filmed with Jarmusch’s stamp as a director.
One thing is for certain: although not outstanding, Broken Flowers provides a character analysis with a clichéd mechanism, but in a refreshing way, and with a meaningful outcome, which instead of being called “philosophical”, deserves more to be called “meaningful”, because that is a reality that all should reflect on. Also, reportedly, Broken Flowers is responsible for almost making Murray to stop acting.