This Movie Is Broken (2010)
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Critic Reviews for This Movie Is Broken
It's a Broken Social Scene movie, with a sweet tease of a story that pretends for a moment that Toronto and Paris could share an affair.
Despite its limitations of form, This Movie Is Broken does a good job of communicating the Broken Social Scene experience. If there's anything to the adage of "Leave 'em wanting more," then it's the movie's strongest suit.
Audience Reviews for This Movie Is Broken
This movie made me feel broken, like I had suddenly woken up old and alone. It manages, somehow, to tell that "scuffling twenty-somethings" story in a way that feels fresh and vivid and honest, and merges this plot with a concert film. It made me long to be young and sexy and free and to lose myself in a rock show, specifically a rock show at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, where I haven't seen a show in at least five years, somehow. And while I'm trashing my own Toronto cred, I'll say that my general indifference to Broken Social Scene (what? But they're FROM Toronto...) didn't stand in the way of enjoying the movie. I think where it succeeded with the often-precious "entry to adulthood" story was that it took a less-is-more approach, punctuating the telling moments - a sort of short-hand plot - with cuts back to the concert. And hilariously: only Canadians will understand this, but the parts in which Bruno (Greg Calderone) is using his smartphone are totally riffs on the Rogers (telecom company) commercials he's been in for the last few years. Literally, Bruce McDonald has imbued those annoying Rogers kids with souls. I did struggle with the ending - it didn't strike me as the likeliest outcome - but what's been assembled here (possibly from two half-finished, abandoned, or "broken" works...?) is another gloriously messy film from one of Canada's best directors. How messy? McDonald shot it during Toronto's ridiculous public workers' strike of 2009, when parks became dumpsites out of necessity during one of the hottest recent summers. It felt important that this was committed to film; in fact, it felt important that a lot of what Toronto is was committed to film, here. A real surprise - I wasn't ready to like this movie, but it hit me right in the gut. It could be my hometown bias or the fact that I just turned 30 talking, though...
If this is an example of the current state of Indie filmmaking in Canada, things are worse than I thought.
Movies like Dazed and Confused, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and This is Spinal Tap celebrate music and how a specific time's culture is influenced by it. There's so much that can be done, particularly if the subject involves teens all flocking to see a band they all like. Lots of room for character development, lots of room to examine a band's impact on a group of people.
Not so in the case of Bruce McDonald's This Movie Is Broken. The film focuses on the band Broken Social Scene, a popular Indie band that hails from Toronto. The setting is 2009, amidst a garbage strike that plagued the city for weeks. Because of this strike, Broken Social Scene had to cancel a show, but decided they'd still perform for free by the Harbourfront. This is the background for a cliche love story that offers very little insight into anything about romance. Bruno wakes up next to Caroline, a one night stand that he hopes he'll be able to turn into a full out relationship, since he's had a crush on her for a long time. She leaves for France tomorrow, so he has one night to convince her to stay. Hmm, I've seen this movie countless times.
Now the problem is that the movie is too focused on showing the band's concert that it forgets about the story. The resolution happens, and you couldn't care less.
Also, a movie based on a band should suggest why this band is important enough to have their own film. I don't like Kiss, but I was able to enjoy them in Detroit Rock City. I'm not a fan of hip hop, but 8 Mile was great. Broken Social Scene, to me, is mediocre at best, but this movie does nothing to celebrate the band's impact on the Indie scene in Toronto (which is massive), or anything at all that makes you appreciate these artists.
This movie is broken all right. And it'll be too difficult to fix. Just avoid it.
If Broken Social Scene wanted to put out a rockumentary, or a concert dvd they should have done just that, and not made, or helped make this. BSS is one of my favorite bands, so this is kind of hard for me to do. What I thought coming in was this was going to be a film about 2 people that revolved around them going to a BSS show, what it really is, is a BSS show that is wrapped around a short story, that ultimately fall flat. Another film that has a great trailer and an unsatisfactory final product. If we're supposed to believe the lead character Bruno is really in love with Caroline, why in God's name did he hook up with his best friend (who is a dude, is he gay? We don't know). Fail.
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