Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Movie Broken Flowers: An Unexpected Birthparent Story

A few days ago I came upon the movie Broken Flowers and was surprised to find a birthparent story. Bill Murray plays a Don Johnston, middle-aged bachelor who one day receives an anonymous letter on pink paper informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him.

Johnston embarks on a journey to visit the women of his past and possibly find his son. Some women greet him happily, one slaps him in the face, etc. To each he comes bearing a bouquet of pink flowers. He does not state his reason for visiting right off, but rather begins looking for clues as he spend time with each woman. He begins to notice young men while traveling. Pink items pop up everywhere. This so brilliantly captures the kind of heightened awareness that takes over when you are searching so fervently.

I saw this as an adoption story, of course.

More generally it is a gentle story of looking for family, looking for likeness in every passing person. Looking for clues of connection. I appreciate that it is told from a perspective that is often silenced. A father who was never informed that he was a father. We prioritize the woman's role as mother (in an adoption context and otherwise), and often I think when the man isn't around the assumption is that he would rather not be involved. Murray's character wasn't exactly ecstatic about discovering that he had a child, but yet he was compelled to find the child and know who he was. This story is especially touching for me because of my own recent encounters with birth family.

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