"Reel" Screen writing
Broken Flowers is a 2005 comedy-drama film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and produced by Jon Kilik and Stacey Smith. It stars Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Tilda Swinton, Julie Delpy, and Mark Webber.
The film is dedicated to French director Jean Eustache. In an interview, Jarmusch said he felt close to Eustache for his commitment to making films in a unique and independent fashion.
Tagline: Sometimes life brings some strange surprises.
The main character, Don Johnston (Bill Murray), is a former Don Juan who wants to live in quiet retirement, having made a small fortune in the computer industry. His life is consumed by malaise, and he is content to sit around watching old movies and listening to classical music. The film opens with his current girlfriend, Sherry (Julie Delpy), leaving him, but Don can barely muster an argument to get her to stay. After she walks out, he finds a letter in his mail purporting to be from an unnamed former girlfriend, informing him that he has a 19-year-old son who may be looking for him. Initially Don doesn't intend to do anything about it, but his busybody neighbor Winston (Jeffrey Wright), who is a mystery enthusiast, pushes Don to investigate. Winston tracks down the current locations of the five women most likely to have written the letter, burns a CD for Don, and sends him to visit them.
- Laura (Sharon Stone) works as a closet and drawer organizer and is the widow of a race car driver. She has a "jailbait" daughter, Lolita (Alexis Dziena), who flirts with Don and walks around the house completely nude in front of him.
- Dora (Frances Conroy) is a realtor who hasn't yet let go of her past; once a flower child of the 60s, she appears very brittle and on the verge of exploding out of her confining life. Her controlling husband, Ron (Christopher McDonald), invites Don to an awkward dinner.
- Carmen (Jessica Lange) works as an "animal communicator." Don recalls how she was formerly so passionate about becoming a lawyer, among other things. But "passion is a funny thing," she says. There are also hints that she may be involved in a lesbian relationship with her receptionist (Chloë Sevigny).
- Penny (Tilda Swinton) lives in the country amongst blue-collar motorcycle enthusiasts. Having left Don years ago, she has no desire to reconcile with him now. When Don asks her whether she has a son, she gets upset; Don is beaten up by her friends as a result. He awakens the next morning in his rental car in the middle of a field. He has a nasty cut around his left eye as a result of the confrontation.
After the beating, Don stops at a florist to buy flowers from a friendly and attractive young woman named Sun Green (Pell James) who bandages his wounds. He leaves the flowers at the grave of the fifth woman, Michelle Pepe, who Don originally thought might be the mother before finding out she had died five years prior. Earlier Don told Winston he had loved Michelle — his only mention of love throughout the film. As he kneels at her gravestone he softly says "Hello, beautiful."
Disillusioned, Don returns home where he meets a young man in the street (Mark Webber) who he suspects may be his son. He buys him lunch, but when he remarks that the young man may wonder whether Don is his father, the young man becomes upset and flees.
As Don looks on, he notices a Volkswagen Beetle drive past. A young man in the passenger seat — played by Homer Murray, the real-life son of Bill Murray — is listening to the music which Don himself has been listening to throughout the movie. Both the young man Don buys lunch for and the one in the car are wearing track suits like Don's. The "Kid in Car" holds unblinking eye contact with Don while the car drives on and away. Don is left standing in the middle of the road.
In the end, none of the mysteries posed by the film are resolved. Don ends his journey no closer to discovering which of the women wrote the letter, and there's even a suggestion that Sherry made the whole thing up to cause Don an existential crisis. It's unclear whether the kid in the Volkswagen is Don's son, or if Don has reached a point where he'll wonder whether every boy he sees might be his son.
Screenwriter Reed Martin sued Jarmusch in March 2006, claiming that the director stole the film's concept from a very similar script that had circulated among several people eventually involved in the production. Jarmusch denies the charges and stated in response that Martin's claim has "absolutely no merit." On September 28, 2007, a Los Angeles federal court jury rejected Martin's claim that Jarmusch and Focus Films stole the screenplay from Martin.