THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN
(director/writer: Felix van Groeningen; screenwriter: Carl Joos/ based on the play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels; cinematographer: Ruben Impens; editor: Nico Leunen; music: Bjorn Eriksson; cast: Veerle Baetens (Elise), Johan Heldenbergh (Didier), Nell Cattrysse (Maybelle), Geert Van Rampelberg (William), Nils De Caster (Jock), Robby Cleiren (Jimmy), Bert Huysentruyt (Jef), Jan Bijvoet (Koen); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Dirk Impens; Tribeca Film; 2012-Belgium-in Flemish, with English subtitles)
“Despite its oft-putting grimness there were enough musical interludes, an homage to hillbilly American music, to keep me tuned in until its crowd pleasing conclusion.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Heartbreaking melodrama from Belgium about opposites falling in love and dealing with their child’s cancer and their rocky marriage due to their grief over their child’s illness. Belgian director Felix van Groeningen(“With Friends Like These”/”The Misfortunates”/”Steve +Sky”) colorfully fills the pic with wonderful bluegrass sounds. Unfortunately there’s a heavy serving of schmaltz. The earnest director tells his nonlinear tale through a series of flashbacks that veer back and forth between past and present. Van Groeningen co-writes with Carl Joos. It’s adapted from the play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels.
Elise (Veerle Baetens) is a heavily tattooed owner of a tattoo shop, and a believer in God. Didier (Johan Heldenbergh, who wrote the play) is a bearded atheist country boy living in a caravan on his pictorial farm property, just outside the Flemish city of Ghent, who plays in a bluegrass band. They have a sweet 7-year-old daughter Maybelle ((Nell Cattrysse), who has an incurable cancer, and while dealing with their daughter’s illness the lovers are transfixed on how to save their marriage.
The film makes references to the marriage of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, as encountered in I Walk the Line.
The devotional music and the troubled love story are told under the dark cloud of their sick little sweetie. It’s a familiar story that is unnecessarily difficult to follow because it’s so disjointed. Its good performancesare wasted, as the viewer is punched too often in the gut with mood swings and banalities to notice. Despite its oft-putting grimness there were enough musical interludes, an homage to hillbilly American music, to keep me tuned in until its crowd pleasingconclusion.
REVIEWED ON 11/26/2013 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/