Title – The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)
Director – Felix van Groeningen (The Misfortunates)
Cast – Johan Heldenbergh, Veerle Baetens, Nell Cattrysse
Plot – Bluegrass musician Didier (Heldenbergh) and tattoo artist Elise (Baetens) fall madly in love, with each other, there music and later on with their young daughter Maybelle (Cattrysse). When Maybelle falls seriously ill, Didier and Elise’s bond will be seriously tested along with their widely different religious views.
“I always knew. That it was too good to be true”
Review by Eddie on 14/10/2014
Uniquely combining bluegrass music classics, family drama and relationship studies into one Belgian infused heavy hitter, Felix van Groeningen’s Oscar nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown isn’t by any means an easy watch but it’s a film that offers up many moments of joy, many moments of heartache and features some outstanding acting turns and musical renditions in a familiar like tale that would be nigh on impossible not to respect.
Groeningen delivers his film in a way that may be off-putting to some and it’s right to say that at times his structure of flashbacks, flash-forwards and present time scenes combine to create a somewhat disjointed feel to proceedings that weaken emotional ties to what is occurring due to a lack of audience engagement, but when Groeningen nails his scenes, there a sight to behold. Scenes centred around couple Didier and Elise and there young daughter Maybelle are fantastically well played, Didier and Elise’s bands musically staged scenes are often highly entertaining and at one pivotal stage moment, incredibly moving and interplay between actors Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens delivers some of the best one/two double acts by male and female actors of recent memories.
Creating a couple that throughout remains empathetic, relatable and likeable, leads Baetens and Heldenbergh (who also co-wrote the screenplay) are wholeheartedly in tune with their characters and their ability to not only act but to sing is an incredibly feat of acting. Both Baetens and Heldenbergh are tasked with many a varied range of emotions, from lofty heights to lowly lows and whether it’s at the peak of happiness or the despair of unhappiness, Elise and Didier feel real thanks to these two actors. Didier and Elise’s love story in many ways reminds one of Blue Valentine, an intimate and raw love that overtime has been torn at by the harsh twists of life and the structure to Broken Circle Breakdown does feel reminiscent of Derek Cianfrance’s tale as previously mentioned in its flash forwards, flashbacks and present day scenes.
An occasionally joyous, often sombre and sometimes beautifully moving, The Broken Circle Breakdown absolutely deserved the critical and award plaudits it received the world over thanks to its fine movie making, high calibre acting and perfectly constructed soundtrack. A tale not to uplift but to in its unique way inspire, this is a film all lovers of classy dramas, world cinema and connoisseurs of toe tapping bluegrass should track down at the next available opportunity.
4 and a half terandas out of 5