Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

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I was fortunate enough to attend a free screening of The Broken Circle Breakdown at my local cinema. The film was showing as one of the contenders in the Lux Prize 2013 and it had grabbed my interest due its bluegrass soundtrack (which is worth a download by the way) and references to the music of Cash and Hank Monroe. What I didn’t expect was the emotional impact that the film would have on me.

This Belgian film has a similar structure to that of Blue Valentine in that we are shown the breakdown of a relationship between two people (Didier & Elise) who fell in love at first sight. We watch the relationship in flash backs and the sense of the impending breakdown is palpable throughout. Scattered amidst these heartbreaking scenes are performances by the band which add great emotional heft to the scenes previous and those to follow. One rendition of Wayfaring Stranger in particular is a real tear jerker.

Alongside the relationship is a little bit of political commentary regarding the treatment of cancer in the USA and the reluctance to use stem cells treatments. Also some rants at God for his lack of intervention in the family’s circumstances lead the viewer down paths of ‘why do good things happen to perfectly decent people?’

There are all sorts of strands going on within The Broken Circle Breakdown but all have equal weight and all have great relevance and impact.

It may be difficult to catch in cinemas (or may even be gone) but I can fully recommend trying to catch it on demand or on its dvd release.

*The Broken Circle Breakdown is released on DVD on 25 November 2013

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