Broken Circle Breakdown
Cert: 15 Year: 2013 Length: 109 mins Language: Flemish
Cinema Handout (PDF 157KB)
Score: 83.04% Attendance: 107
If we tell you this film is about Didier, the banjo player in a blue-grass band falling in love with Elise, a tattoo artist, and that they have a child who gets cancer, you will probably be thinking that it sounds a recipe for disaster..."And yet, from all this, the director Felix Van Groeningen has created something not just plausible and affecting but sharp and alert in its distress" - so says Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, and his words are echoed by most of the critics.
How has he done this? By starting at the end of the story and flashing back and forth, he removes any possibility of a schmaltzy ending, "dismantling the chronology of this painful love story to illuminate the past by ramming it up against the present, and vice versa" - Tim Robey, Telegraph. The present day pain and anguish is constantly relieved by their past life. And their past is very beautiful. A case of love at first sight brought very much to life by what the critics also agree on - some great acting by the two central players, Johan Heldenbergh and Veerie Baetens. Neither of these are famous outside Belgium but both put themselves into these roles with a vengeance. Baetens especially gets credit - Tim Robey goes on to say "She ought to be a huge star, and this is exactly where to see her born".
Van Groeningen also manages to bring some politics into the mix - Didier is a full blown atheist who blames their problems on the state, while Elise falls back on her religion for comfort. Oh, and we must mention the music. Back to Anthony Lane for my favourite quote - "For any viewer who, for one reason or another, has been shamefully ignorant of Belgian bluegrass, here is your opportunity to make amends". How can you resist that as a challenge?
This Belgian drama is the real deal, an alternately wrenching and ecstatic viewing experience
Sara Stewart New York Post
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