(director/writer: Rian Johnson; cinematographer: Steve Yedlin; editor: Gabriel Wrye; music: Nathan Johnson; cast: Rachel Weisz (Penelope), Adrien Brody (Bloom), Mark Ruffalo (Stephen), Rinko Kikuchi (Bang Bang), Maximilian Schell (Diamond Dog), Robbie Coltrane (Melville), Ricky Jay (Narrator); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ram Bergman/James D. Stern; Summit Entertainment; 2008)

“A quirky film that never quite fully satisfied me.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Writer/director Rian Johnson(“Looper”/”Star Wars: Episode IX“/”Brick”) presents a quirky film that never quite fully satisfied me. It’s set in the studio and on location in places like Montenegro, Prague, Mexico, St. Petersburg, and on a luxury steamer crossing the Atlantic.

Pinstripe suit-wearing con men brothers, the older Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and the passive younger brother Bloom (Adrien Brody), were raised to be grifters. Things take a different turn after 25 years when the younger sibling (with no given first name) plans to go legit. The older sibling Stephen convinces him to try one last rewarding swindle before calling it quits. An elaborate scheme is planned to steal the wealth of the New Jersey eccentric millionaire heiress Penelope (Rachel Weisz). Such wealth is hard to refuse and the offer is accepted by Bloom, who yearns to live a happy and stress-free life.

The film has fast legs as the con is set in motion by stealing an antiquarian book and the viewer then must try to keep up with the twisty grift as it gets more elaborate with colorful characters coming aboard (like the mute Japanese named Ban-Bang) and many ruses are slipped in. Complications arise when our boy Bloom falls madly in love with the pretty, bubbly and vulnerable mark. Before things come to fruition, the film dies from obnoxious fumes and disappoints with a crappy sentimental ending that took the air out of it.

Nevertheless there’s some clever puns for fans of the con man genre and a silly routine over a whiskey drinking camel. Those with a strong stomach for Wes Anderson knock-off films should be attracted to such a caper pic.