Film Review: Broken

According to the box it’s not only “Powerful, Gripping and Moving” (Virgin Movies) but also “British Cinema At It’s Best” (Shortlist) as well as, the Winner – Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards and hailing from Studio Canal it had everything going for it in terms of being a properly enjoyable indie film.

I should point out at this point, that when film buffs talk about “British Cinema” and independent films they are talking about films that have a production quality which falls a long way from the usual Hollywood big budget blockbuster. There is a grainy, cold, realism with which they are shot and usually, they portray life not through soap opera glasses but scary everyday acurracy to which you connect. If you want to know how good british cinema and independent film making can be watch films like Tyranosaur and Submarine. But be warned, they don’t portray life in the happy uplifting ways Hollywood would.

So, Broken in theory, ticks all the right boxes. And with a cast that includes Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy, Robert Emms, Rory Kinnear to name just a few, things look positive. As long as you understand British Cinema and therefore, the type of film you will get you should be in for a evening of cinematic enjoyment. However. What you get is a film that leaves you as cold as the temperature chart used to colour it.

As film plots go it just leaves you confused and befuddled. Centring around a girl called Skunk, her nickname but at no point do they explain why, the film shows how the lives of the cal-de-sac she lives on evolve, entwine and destroy those she’s lives around and therefore, ultimately her. But sadly, my summarising does nothing but evoke thoughts of a plot that sounds better than it is and annoyingly never gets that far. It just mundanely ticks along, never changing pace, never feeling like it’s moving but rather, just ticking by. Slowly passing the time. It’s a bit like a child just sitting on a stationary swing kicking their legs back and forward as the world slowly drifts past. Somehow they don’t get bored but they don’t achieve or really derive any enjoyment from it either.

The cast which before hand, on paper, looked so strong, sadly fail to gel on screen. The father daughter relationship between Skunk (Eloise Laurence) and Archie (Tim Roth) works. There is a true sense of warmth and loving in their performances. But that’s it. Everybody else just feels disjointed and pushed together. Robert Emms brings a level of scatty madness to his performance to ensure you understand and believe the role he is playing, but it’s a round peg in a plot full of square holes.

I’m really sad that Broken didn’t manage to live up to the billing in my head. There is no question that there is a maturity and honesty to the film that is wonderful. It’s just a shame that they didn’t feel brave enough to take the plot and really push it. Really see how far into the darker sides of live you can go. Certainly, if you like British Cinema and lower budget films that remind you of how film making can be, then get hold of a copy. There are some artistic shots peppered throughout which are stunning beautiful managing to combine a glowing warmth with a sense of eerie coldness at the same time, but don’t expect a film that will live long into your memory. Just as their lives tick mundanely along from one forgetful day to the next. Broken will tick mundanely into your life and back out of it again without stopping.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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