Film Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

As a film nerd and all I’ve wanted to start writing film reviews for a while now. It never seemed to happen though because I was always worried about not doing it right. But really this is my blog and it’s up to me. So I’m going to start writing reviews. Probably film and book reviews, but I may branch out. I’m going to do it my way, in my style. Part of me is saying “no you have to get online and find out how you’re supposed to write a review” but that part of me has also just received the finger because I’ve decided to do it however it feels right. It’s good to leave rules and regulations behind every now and again. There’s enough of those I have to deal with when I’m writing stuff for uni. So here goes, my first review. Enjoy!

The Broken Circle Breakdown surprised me. Not because I didn’t think it was going to be good. Before I watch a film I usually check its imdb rating. Not that this always says much as there have been films I loved that scored very badly on there and films I hated that scored very well, but it sometimes tells you a little bit about how well received a film has been. This one has (right now) a 7.9. It is also nominated for the Oscar (or academy award if you like) for best foreign film. As good as this film was I have my hopes set on Jagten (The Hunt) winning that one, but it is most definitely a well deserved nomination.

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

Now back to why the film surprised me. As far as I can remember the only Belgian film I’ve seen is Loft,  which is very good. Apart from that thought the closest to Belgian films I’ve seen are Dutch films, sorry Belgium I can imagine this being offensive. Now Dutch films are, generally, not very good. Not very good at all.  Obviously there are exceptions (like Loft, which is a Dutch remake of the Belgian film mentioned earlier. Why you wonder? I am still wondering the exact same thing.) and there are several mediocre Dutch films. But the majority are very cheesy and the acting is not usually very good either. From now on I will never ever think of Dutch and Belgian films in the same category ever again! I promise you Belgium and I’m sorry if I ever did. This film and probably most Belgian films are of a totally different calibre. Two small countries right next to each other on the map, who (partly) share a language have two completely different styles when it comes to films. Now obviously I can’t talk about all Belgian films, as I’ve only seen two, so anything I’ve said is going off the two films I’ve seen and anything I say from now on will specifically be about the one I saw today The Broken Circle Breakdown.

First off WOW! Just WOW! When a film makes me go WOW! it has been successful. This film was very successful. I said WOW! on several occasions. What I’m about to do is compare this film to my favourite type of films, Scandinavian films, more specifically Danish dramas, it’s the fact that this film is not Danish, or Scandinavian, but otherwise it would fit perfectly on the shelf between my collection of Danish dramas. Why? This film is realistic, raw, emotional and almost gritty at times. Think of Susanne Bier’s (Brødre, Hævnen) and Thomas Vinterberg’s films (Jagten, Festen). The cinematography is beautiful and the music, oh I loved the music!

Still of Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh in The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

The story follows Elise and Didier’s life together and with their daughter, Maybelle. Almost straight away we witness the family together in the hospital, Maybelle (seriously the cutest little girl ever, she had my ovaries going berserk!) has cancer. The film focuses on Elise and Didier’s relationship, from the beginning to the end. The hardship of an terminally ill daughter that they must face together. How they deal with this and how their relationship sustains throughout the process. The film is deeply moving and had me in tears several times. The emotions are all very real and I could really emphasize with the characters. The film pulled me in and it wouldn’t let go. There’s a scene during the first half concerning Didier, Maybelle and a dead bird and it had me crying like a baby.

Music plays a big part in the film. Didier is in a bluegrass band, which Elise becomes a part of as well. Naturally bluegrass becomes the film’s soundtrack and it plays an important role throughout. I have recently taken quite a liking to this type of music, so it was just one more thing that made this film all the more brilliant.

I think depending on the kind of person you are you will tend to understand either Didier or Elise more than the other. Two very different people with very different ideas and ways of dealing with things. Didier is both an atheist and a realist, whereas Elise is religious and has certain beliefs surrounding an afterlife and symbolism. I felt closest to the Didier throughout the film, I seemed to choose his side so to speak when certain situations arose. Near the end of the film he also has a few of the most beautiful lines in the film. I did understand Elise’s way of thinking in some aspects and maybe even preferred some of them, but I felt Didier was the most rational.

An eloquent drama, pieced together perfectly and wonderful performances all around. It touched my heart. There couldn’t have been a better soundtrack and I don’t know if it’s just me, but if a film has made me cry, more than once, it’s done it’s job and shown just how powerful a film can be. My rating is a nine out of ten, pretty much perfect.

2 thoughts on “Film Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

  1. Nice review about an amazing movie indeed! (and this Belgian accepts your apology :):))

    I also loved Festen and most of the Scandinavian cinema. Have you ever seen ‘Mifunes sidste sang’? That one has always belonged in the list next to Festen.

    • Thank you :) And I’m glad you accept my apology ;)

      I’ve not seen ‘Mifunes sidste sang’ yet, although it is on my watch list, as it’s written by one of my fave Scandinavian screen writers/directors Anders Thomas Jensen :) I’ll make sure I watch it soon ;)

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