From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "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 sent the letter to cause Don an existential crisis. It's unclear whether the young man 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. The last moment has the camera spinning around Don's head (a full 360° rotation) with a blank expression on his face."
Broken Flowers is a 2005 comedy-drama film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and produced by Jon Kilik and Stacey Smith. Its main actors are 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. He is content to lounge around watching old movies and listening to classical music. The film begins with him receiving a mailed letter in a pink envelope. His current girlfriend, Sherry (Julie Delpy), sees it and begins an argument which ends their relationship, but Don says little which might convince her to remain with him. After she walks out, he reads the letter: it purports 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 novel enthusiast, urges Don to investigate. Winston researches the current locations of the five women most likely to have written the letter, gives Don the information (along with maps, MapQuest print-outs, and air flight reservations), urges him to visit them, and tells Don that he will drive him to the airport the next morning.
- Laura (Sharon Stone) works as a closet and drawer organizer and is the widow of a race car driver. She has a young daughter Lolita (Alexis Dziena), apparently a teenager, who flirts with Don and once appears completely naked in front of him.
- Dora (Frances Conroy) is a realtor. Once a "flower child" of the 1960s, she apparently hasn't been reconciled to her present life: she appears nervous and melancholic. Her 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. 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 a rural area amongst tawdry motorcycle enthusiasts. Having left Don years ago, she doesn't have any desire to reconcile with him now. When Don asks her whether she has a son, she becomes enraged. Don is beaten 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.
Don then stops at a florist to buy flowers from a friendly and attractive young woman named Sun Green (Pell James) who bandages his cut. 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) whom he suspects may be his son. He buys him a meal, but when he remarks that the young man believes that 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 young man in the 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 sent the letter to cause Don an existential crisis. It's unclear whether the young man 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. The last moment has the camera spinning around Don's head (a full 360° rotation) with a blank expression on his face.