I guess Bill Murray is now the poster child for self-reflective middle age types. If "Lost in Translation" and Jim Jarmusch's "Broken Flowers" are any indication, these people are so hopelessly full of themselves and their own memories that a nearly infinite amount of focal intensity still isn't enough to glean all the meaning out of their lives.
Apparently, just staring at Murray's face is supposed to convey sadness because he sure as hell doesn't convey anything else. Murray has honed staring into space into an art from (or, at least, a steady career in indie filmmaking). However, I'll concede that he certainly is sad. Sad in a way that screams: "Please give me an Oscar! Oh, please!" Watching his form of minimalism is like staring at that white painting in the art museum and wondering who in the hell deemed this art.
Here, Murray plays Don Johnston, a sullen bachelor. Our association with him starts as his latest relationship, with Sherry (Julie Delpy), ends. He then receives a letter from some past lover suggesting that he may have a 19-year-old son. This seems to interest Don's neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), more than it does Don. Winston arranges Don's travel so that Don can visit the possible past girlfriends who might be the mother. For no apparent reason, Don goes along with the plan and visits Laura (Sharon Stone), Dora (Frances Conroy), Carmen (Jessica Lange) and Penny (Tilda Swinton). We learn almost nothing from these visits other than the fact that Don's ex-girlfriends are weird.
Here's what's particularly stupid and meaningless about this film: It's minimalist in that its only real point is that Don eventually recognizes meaning in his life. That's not enough to make a film interesting. I also don't particularly care for the implication that a bachelor can't have a meaningful life and that Don's life is somehow fuller merely because he might have a long-lost son out there. This is one of the central problems with our society: Too many people think their lives have no meaning until kids are involved, and as a result they disgorge a few more shrieklings onto an overcrowded planet in a quest for their own personal fulfillment. It's revolting. Like this movie.
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