Director Rufus Norris resorts to some cheap tricks with non-sequential narration, but the central story is pretty good. After violence erupts in her neighborhood, Skunk, wonderfully played by Eloise Laurence, wonders why adults behave with such cruelty, and her father seems to have as much understanding as she does. At its core, Broken is about violence and dread and the mystery of cruelty and prejudice. These are interesting themes, and while they're not fully realized, the film remains basically compelling.
Overall, this isn't a bad film, but Norris's gimmicks wore on me, especially after he went to the same bag of tricks for the third time.
Both my plot synopsis and the film's marketing would have you believe 'Broken' is yet another gritty urban British drama but this couldn't be further from the truth. For the most part, 'Broken' is charmingly upbeat, full of characters who are so damn nice you can't help but grin like an idiot while you watch them. Roth has called this his most difficult role as he's never been called on to play such an out and out nice guy before. Like 'Little Children' and 'Welcome to the Dollhouse', it focuses on how ill-equipped most of us are to deal with human relationships. You're never sure whether you want to give its characters a hug or a smack, but they're thoroughly engaging either way. What ultimately keeps 'Broken' from becoming a great film, rather than a merely good one, is an overly sentimental final act which hinges on an incident that's all too predictable.
While the entire ensemble deliver top-notch performances, it's Laurence who steals the show. Like Thomas Doret in last year's 'The Kid With a Bike', she delivers a genuinely child-like performance. Unlike many child actors, you never feel like you're just watching a miniature adult. She manages to evoke the character's intelligence without ever coming across as arrogant or unlikable. Mark O'Rowe's script helps of course. Viewing adult problems through a child's eyes could have been handled in a far more trite manner. If this were an American studio production (or even an indie like 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'), no doubt we'd have to endure an irritating voice-over in which Laurence tells us how she's so much cleverer than us grown-ups.
Like the best movies about childhood, 'Broken' asks plenty of questions but never has the arrogance to attempt to answer them.
I read a few negative reviews and I really cannot understand why. The film even received the Golden Eye Award for best international film on the Zurich Film Festival. It also won The British Independent Film Awards 2012 for Best British Independent Film, and I think deserved all of them! Music score was amazing and I loved the comment of the first-time film director Norris who told BBC News after winning BIFA 2012: "Hopefully it makes it more likely that I'll get the chance to make another film." I hope he does very soon, because it was refreshing to see a movie where there is no bad or good only - Broken shows how people behave sometimes in really awful ways and sometimes in really good ways, often it's to do with love, protection or fear.
If you like to watch a movie which talks about things that affect us all, and have all your emotions involved, this one should do!
Broken is a lovely film where the story has been woven together with intricate detail, it is beautiful on many levels. The story is a British coming-of-age story about a girl named Skunk who is the centerpiece of this multidimensional movie, and somewhat complicated piecing together of the telling of this story. The director (Rufus Norris) does a brilliant job at balancing the comic and tragic elements of the book, and weaves an interesting tale throughout the entire 90-minutes.
The cast does such an remarkable job dropping right into the story from the first frame, and they all connect with the viewer in a way to remove the barriers that could become a problem in a film like this. This movie will appeal to adults and teens alike as the intense drama is underplayed and though there is a dark undertone throughout the film, the viewer is easily brought into the story and can't let go until the credits roll.
The film has some well-known faces, such as Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy (who can also play a good guy, not just a villain), but this isn't the last time we will see the name Eloise Laurence on the silver screen. Eloise was brilliant, and deserves recognition for her amazing contribution to this movie.
I strongly recommend this movie; it is one of the best of the year!