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Movie Review

The Brothers Bloom a.k.a. “Les frères Bloom,” “Oi adelfoi Bloom,” “Penelope”

MPAA Rating: R for violence, some sensuality and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Misty Wagner

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adventure, Romance, Crime
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 15, 2009 (select—4 theaters)
May 29, 2009 (limited—wider)
DVD: September 29, 2009
Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Thieves in the Bible: Theft, Robbery, The two thieves

Lying in the Bible


Sin and the Bible

Orphans in the Bible


DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer

Featuring: Rachel Weisz (Penelope), Adrien Brody (Bloom), Mark Ruffalo (Stephen), Rinko Kikuchi (Bang Bang), Robbie Coltrane (Curator), Maximilian Schell (Diamond Dog), Ricky Jay (Narrator—voice), Zachary Gordon (Young Bloom), Max Records (Young Stephen), Andy Nyman (Charleston), Noah Segan (The Duke), Nora Zehetner (Rose), Ram Bergman (Himself), Craig Johnson (Apple Cart Vendor), Dubravko Jovanovic (Albino), Esme Tyler (Young Girl), Jovan Vitas (Young Boy), Ana Sofrenovic (Charleston’s Wife), Vladimir Kulhavy (Chief of Police), Alek Rodic (Snack Car Attendant), Josif Tatic (Oafish Foster Father), Slobodan Custic (Foster Dad), Branka Pujic (Foster Mom), George Bocchetti (Excited Boy), Elis Derham (Excited Boy), Stefan Kapicic (German Bar Owner), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Bar Patron—uncredited), Lukas Haas (Bar Patron—uncredited)
Director: Rian Johnson
Producer: Endgame Entertainment, Ram Bergman Productions, Ram Bergman, Douglas Hansen, Wendy Japhet, Tom Karnowski, James D. Stern
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“They’d never let the truth come between them.”

Stephen and Bloom grew up bouncing from foster home to foster home. By the time Bloom was 10 and Stephen 13, they found themselves in their thirty-eighth home. The boys learned, through a conditional and flawed system, that they were all the other had, the only people they could truly count on…

Twenty-Five years later, Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) are the most successful pair of gentlemen thieves the world has known. Conning their way into millions with the aid of their mostly silent sidekick Bang-Bang (Rinko Kikuchi—who does a fantastic job, despite her lack of lines), Stephen finds worth and satisfaction in weaving all levels of dramatic elements into their ruses while Bloom finds himself aching for a form of reality that isn’t scripted by his older brother. Vowing to go out on his own (which turns out to be merely hiding away with a supply of liquor and his own depression) Bloom walks away from Stephen and the con-artist business.

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer

Months pass and Stephen tracks down Bloom, convincing him to head to New Jersey for one last con. The “big one.” The one which Stephen continually refers to as The Perfect Con. Reluctantly, Bloom hears Stephen out, eventually agreeing more out of his curiosity about the con’s target Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Penelope is the soul heir to her deceased fathers enormous, oil funded, estate.


  • Though profanity and vulgarity in this film is pretty scattered, it’s there—a couple “f” words, several misuses of “God,” “for Christ’s sake,” “Jesus,” “Sweet Jesus,” “Jesus Christ,” “Oh Lord,” “sh*t” (several), S.O.B., and “hell.”
  • There is an awkward sensual scene when Penelope is drunk during a thunderstorm.
  • Penelope and Bloom kiss passionately, and it is implied that they have sex. They are shown together in bed the next morning.
  • Towards the beginning of the film, Bloom is propositioned by an admirer.
  • During a confrontation with a previous guardian it is made obvious that something painful happened for the boys while with him (sexual molestation?), though it doesn’t elaborate, it wastes no effort making this very clear.
  • There is the obvious immorality of lying/stealing/conning.
  • Violence includes: Shootings including some blood, car shot with machine gun, car crashes, fist fights, broken bottle used to cut Diamond Dog’s hand, and various explosions.


  • Surprisingly, I feel there is quite a lot. Though, through most of the film it may seem like the relationship between Stephen and Bloom is not a good one—as the film develops that perception changes.

  • The character of Penelope is so unconditional and forgiving—a truly graceful and selfless character. Joyously optimistic, there is something so refreshing about watching Penelope’s scenes.

It isn’t as much the little moments of the film which caught, entertained or touched me, but more the currents beneath the surface. As a film which flows with a sort of film noir feel, vibrantly styled and enchantingly soundtracked, it’s quite easy to be swept up in moments of “The Brothers Bloom.” This truly is a movie that will give you laugh-out-loud moments coupled with the tear inducing ones. Many critics have cited the film for a lack of character depth, but, in my back-to-back viewings, I found quite the opposite. Without giving anything away, the relationships between the core characters do grow quite deep—revealing much about the characters themselves in the process. For example, the audience is granted very brief glimpses into the painful childhoods of the Brothers Bloom as well as Penelope—and how those hurts shaped them into the people they are today.

Though the relationship between Bloom and Penelope develops quite tenderly, it is the depth of the relationship between Stephen and Bloom which I felt carried the film. At times romantic and endearing, the story is more of a bond between two brothers.

Beautifully filmed and quite intoxicating at times, “The Brothers Bloom” perhaps takes itself a bit too seriously. One could say it is a little too artsy. It’s easy to criticize a film which tries to pull off so much in under two hours, but overall I truly enjoyed this movie.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
…Rian Johnson’s “The Brothers Bloom” lets us in on the con and then fools us. It does that in an interesting way. … Johnson has a fertile imagination, a way with sly comedy and a yearning for the fantastical. But he needs to tend to his nuts and bolts and meat and potatoes. The film is just too smug and pleased with itself… [2½/4]
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…Rian Johnson’s globe-trotting caper comedy “The Brothers Bloom” is the movie equivalent of an elaborate juggling act whose performers keep dozens of pins wheeling in the air. As much as you admire the stagecraft and the technical skills on display, when all is said and done, that’s all it is: a fancy, not-quite-two-hour stunt. …
—Stephen Holden, The New York Times
…I left the theater annoyed and frustrated with the movie… Yet over the past eight months I’ve recommended the film to countless people, and have patiently awaited its release so I could see it again. …
—Mark Medley, National Post
…Rian Johnson’s film is a scam wrapped in a sham, a stylish caper movie… too concerned with its look to say much worth listening to.
—Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer
…strains so hard to be clever and quirky that you steadily develop a stomachache. Watching this movie is like being elbowed in the ribs for two consecutive hours. … After another 20 minutes, you want to hurl a brick at the screen; after nearly two hours, you want to end it all (or maybe end the director). … [2/5]
—Christopher Kelly, The Dallas Morning News
…The more elaborate the twists, the slighter the project becomes, leaving little impression and smaller B.O. prospects… This is a director who’s full of beans but perhaps little else…
—Robert Koehler, Variety
…a woman makes orgasmic sounds in several scenes, a female bare butt is briefly seen…