Ambivalence: Me Like

Contains spoilers for Broken Flowers

Recently I commented on J.R. Lennon's views on endings. He's followed up on his post with one about the film Broken Flowers', which he calls "perfect":
Bill Murray plays an aging lothario who gets an anonymous letter from a former lover, telling him they have a son together, and the son might be coming to see him. So, to prepare, Murray's character, Don Johnston, goes on a road trip, visiting all his old lovers, trying to figure out which one sent the letter. The road trip makes up the bulk of the movie.

Long story short, he doesn't figure it out, and when he gets back, he meets a kid at the bus station whom he thinks must be the son. He tries to befriend him, but ends up freaking him out: turns out it isn't the son, just a stranger. And in the final scene, as the freaked-out non-son runs off, a car goes by bearing two passengers who are around the same age as the son would be, and who are wearing the same clothes. And Don just watches the car go by in slow motion until it's gone.

The message: from now on, every kid he sees for the rest of his life will briefly seem like his son.
My interpretation of the ending was completely different. The kid at the bus station and Don seemed like a perfect match: Had that been Don's son, their meeting would have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship. When the car with the two other teens then passes by, this is a suggestion that the one in the passenger's seat is Don's actual son, coming to look for his father. Being the loutish simpleton the short shot clearly suggests he is, he's naturally brought a friend. (These people aren't into spending time alone.) (And maybe they've been informed Don's rich and his friend feels like enjoying some luxury, too? And he's got a car.) The message: How regrettable that it's this fella that is actually Don's son, but there you go. And maybe: Even if you don't get to raise them, children still don't turn out the way you want them to.

Thing is, the film allows for both readings. What a perfect ending!

No comments: