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The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2013)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 89
Fresh: 72 | Rotten: 17

The Broken Circle Breakdown's reach occasionally exceeds its grasp, but overall, it's an intoxicating, finely wrought romance -- and one with a terrific soundtrack to boot.


Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 25
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 6

The Broken Circle Breakdown's reach occasionally exceeds its grasp, but overall, it's an intoxicating, finely wrought romance -- and one with a terrific soundtrack to boot.



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 3,783

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Movie Info

The Broken Circle Breakdown is the new film by Felix van Groeningen. The film is based on the stage play with the same name by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, with which they filled all manner of theaters, church halls, public houses and cultural centres. (c) Official Site

Mar 11, 2014


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All Critics (89) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (17) | DVD (1)

The movie swings like a pendulum between elation and despair, with little time devoted to anything in between.

January 30, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Traditional bluegrass songs of loss and grief provide the inspiration and score for this innovative Belgian, Flemish-language musical drama.

January 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's the music that really brings Broken Circle to life, an excellent collection of old-timey country classics and originals that reconnects the broken bits of the story and resonates with its deepest emotions.

January 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Breakdown gets the music right and has the benefit of strong acting, but its unapologetically melodramatic plot has a tendency to throw everything at you but the kitchen sink.

January 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Invigorating musical elements and the lead actors' potent chemistry can't entirely protect this tragic relationship drama from its encroaching shortage of subtlety.

January 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Breakdown's less convincingly scripted second half sputters more often than it shines.

January 24, 2014 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I wish the patience and grace of the director's techniques in the film's strongest non-musical moments were matched in his depictions of the amazing music on display.

June 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

It's a film about a couple whose tumultuous relationship is severely challenged, and the performances are excellent.

May 19, 2014 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

Where the Coen brothers gently mocked th[e] music in O Brother Where art Thou?, this plucky little Belgian film reconnects that music to the sorrows that produced it. Just brilliant.

May 19, 2014 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

There are plenty of touching, powerful moments in director Felix Van Groeningen's child-with-cancer drama...though [it's] somewhat laboured. The 2012 French film Declaration of War dealt with a similar topic in more lyrical, more affecting manner.

May 16, 2014 Full Review Source: 3AW

In spite of the bleak premise the film isn't an emotional force.

May 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Impulse Gamer
Impulse Gamer

It is for most of its length a strong involving narrative with wonderful performances from the two leads, Heldenbergh and Baetens and a simply lovely one from young Nell Cattrysse.

May 13, 2014 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Despite the miserable subject matter, writer-director Felix Van Groeningen manages to mostly strike the right chord, eschewing unchecked histrionics for honest, bittersweet emotion.

May 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

The juxtaposition of bluegrass music in this heavy-hitting drama about love and loss brings with it an unexpected and exquisite timbre. Take a tissue - this is an affecting film that touches the heart

May 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A devastatingly sad movie that is beautifully constructed and performed.

April 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Columbus Alive
Columbus Alive

"Broken Circle Breakdown" ends with a communal song in a confined space, not a dirge, but with hushed voices raised in envoi, and Groeningen's camera trickles down to pick out one last, final, lasting image. It all comes full circle.

April 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Newcity

It's a powerful film that builds to intense, overwhelming emotions with a very human core.

April 3, 2014 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

Sensibly written and thoughtfully directed, intuitively acted, bitter-sweet like Belgian chocolate, and propelled by incredible bluegrass music.

March 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

Electric sexiness and very modern motifs overlie a wonderfully old-fashioned melodrama... a highly gratifying one, if you enjoy a good ol' weep.

March 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Raises itself far above its Lifetime Movie of the Week premise.

February 26, 2014 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

The Broken Circle Breakdown doesn't jerk tears. It attempts to extract them by using enhanced interrogation techniques.

February 9, 2014 Full Review Source: Quickflix

Groovy German bluegrass, if you can believe it.

January 26, 2014
Baret News

Audience Reviews for The Broken Circle Breakdown

It's hard to tell whether The Broken Circle Breakdown was born from Bluegrass or if the likeness between the story and the music came later, regardless, both work in harmony beautifully. You may struggle if you take prudence to Bluegrass but then again, it may convert you. Either way, you can't hide from the intensity of the romance and the good and bad that comes with it. It's a thinking persons romance, the antidote for the usual Hollywood 'Rom-com'. It's style and practicality, the perfect romance is often not perfect and that's why it works. There are no ridiculous situations, no comedy in-laws, no talking Dog etc, only the ridiculousness of every day life, much like in Bluegrass, we sing about the good and sing about the bad, only the tempo is different. Don't misunderstand me though, I'm not going to give away the story but The Broken Circle Breakdown pulls no punches and has more depth than any film I've seen in the last few years and deserves to be seen.
March 17, 2014

Super Reviewer

"The Broken Circle Breakdown" is a hard one to review, because it's overwhelmingly depressing tone will definitely make you not want to watch the film, especially because it get's more and more depressing as the film goes on. It is essentially about a man and a woman's love story, told very non-linear as they fall madly in love, have an unexpected daughter, and have to deal with the fact that she has cancer and may not make it out. Growing up as country singers, each time they sing on stage was in English which was great shift in tones, and the performances are some of the best to come from 2013. It is definitely one of the best films of 2013, but it is just very very hard to watch. I highly recommend watching this film, but at the right moment.
March 1, 2014
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

An emotionally intense, realistic and expertly edited drama about love, loss and sorrow, with two great heartfelt performances and a stirring bluegrass soundtrack. It is just a shame, though, that in the third act it simply chooses to embrace a dishonest spiritual conclusion.
October 29, 2013

Super Reviewer

Well, I, for one, was blown away by this! A heartbreakingly beautiful story told in a piecemeal fashion that I found annoying at first, but that soon drew me in It was an emotional rollercoaster that had me laughing one minute and choking back tears the next. Excellent performances by the two leads, Johan Heldenbergh (who also wrote the play it is based on and the screenplay) and Veerle Baetens. The music was a plus, as well, as I love bluegrass. It is a terribly sad story of a couple who (SPOILER ALERT!)
lose their child and then find themselves drifting apart, each lost in their own grief and trying to make sense of their loss.
May 7, 2014
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

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