In The Brothers Bloom, siblings Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) and Bloom (Adrien Brody) are a scrappy terrier and listless Whippet sniffing for suckers. Stephen is the alpha dog herding his brother into elaborate con games, with Bloom passively following.
To put it another way, Stephen is the architect of intricate schemes to relieve millionaires of their Swiss bank accounts, and brother Bloom is his front man, reluctantly priming the next mark for maximum bamboozle. The next - and hopefully, last - chump is Penelope (Rachel Weisz), an heiress of many enthusiasms and no particular vocation.
Like the hats the brothers wear - a porkpie and a bowler suggesting their slapstick allegiance with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton - there is something arch about these hornswogglers. Not to mention the movie they're in.
Rian Johnson's film is a scam wrapped in a sham, a stylish caper movie about third-class grifters with first-class accommodations on oceanliners and railway cars to Prague.
I appreciate the film's retro-modern feel, with burnished interiors that reasonably might date from 1909 or 2009, the rhythms of hard-boiled dialogue that might be Hammett or Mamet, and tailored duds that could be vintage or freshly squeezed.
Yet, these components add up to precious little in this precious affair too concerned with its look to say much worth listening to.