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Writer-director Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom has a lot going for it, like an excellent cast doing good work, fabulous locations, a sumptuous look, and some interesting ideas in a genre that’s rife with possibilities. Somehow, though, the film is a whole that’s less than the sum of its parts. We meet siblings Stephen and Bloom, the products of numerous foster homes, at ages 13 and 10, respectively, as they’re starting to develop the skills and savvy that will help them become the full-blown scam-meisters they are when we meet up with them in their thirties (with Mark Ruffalo taking over as Stephen and Adrien Brody as Bloom). It seems Bloom wants to pack it in and live "an unwritten life" free of his brother’s elaborate schemes. But Stephen, who is now accompanied by a sidekick named Bang Bang (Babel’s Rinko Kikuchi, in an amusing, mostly silent performance as what Stephen refers to as "our fifth Beatle"), convinces his younger brother to take part in one last swindle, this one targeting the filthy rich Penelope Stamp (Rachel Weisz), who lives alone in what’s described as the biggest house on the eastern seaboard. Penelope’s an oddball, to say the least, having overcome a sickly childhood and become a master hobbyist whose skills rage from origami and playing six or eight instruments to riding a unicycle while balancing two chainsaws. Posing as antiquities dealers, the brothers pull her into a scheme that takes the trio all over the world (Greece, Prague, Montenegro, St. Petersburg, Mexico). Needless to say, complications ensue. Penelope turns out to be pretty good at the con game herself; what’s more, we know from the moment Stephen warns Bloom not to fall in love with her that he’ll quickly do exactly that. For sure, The Brothers Bloom has its high points, with surreal touches and amusing moments that help counterbalance its fairly arch overall tone. But in the end, it feels as if Johnson is trying too hard, sacrificing character for cleverness, and it’s the audience--even those who enjoy and are adept at sorting through the various clues and red herrings to figure out what’s supposedly really happening--that feels conned, or at least finds it difficult to care. --Sam Graham