There are many great moments in Jim Jarmusch’s Don Juan fable Broken Flowers (2005), but my favorite part is when Don (Bill Murray) sits on his couch and listens to the single version of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” from his friend Winston’s CD. I don’t think the scene lasts more than a minute, and Don doesn’t say a word, but his silence and his gestures as he absorbs the music say it all.
The lyrics echo both Don’s history with women and his current feelings: “Don’t play with something you should cherish for life, oh baby/Don’t you wanna care?/Ain’t it lonely out there…” The lyrics, which are about the narrator wanting to be with someone who wants him just as much, suggest that Don’s greatest desire is to be in love, really in love, rather than taking part in a series of impermanent relationships which end badly.
The scene, fleeting though it is, is sad but also a little bit funny. Jarmusch treats Don sympathetically; it’s clear that Don is no Superman. He’s an ordinary man who, deep down, is lonely and longs for meaning in his life. If Jarmusch is using the Marvin Gaye song to ask the audience the question of “don’t you wanna care” about Don, then the answer is yes.