Broken

2013

Broken (2013)

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The summer holidays have just begun and 11 year-old Skunk's afternoons are full of day dreams and curious wanderings around her neighborhood - with the exception that she must regularly give herself injections to combat her type 1 diabetes. When, one day, Skunk (Eloise Laurence) discovers her bitter and angry older neighbor, Mr. Oswald (Rory Kinnear), savagely beating Rick, a psychologically-troubled boy from the neighborhood whom Mr. Oswald's daughter has callously and fictitiously accused of rape, Skunk's innocence begins to vanish. Trying to find solace with her loving nanny (Zana Marjanovic) and father (Tim Roth), with whom she is very close, Skunk is unwittingly drawn into her neighbors' unfolding melodrama involving violence, sex, and life-shattering illness. Her home, her neighborhood and her school all become treacherous environments where the happy certainties of childhood give way to a fear-filled doubt, and the promise of a complex, broken future. Overwhelmed by her experiences, Skunk herself is drawn into an ethereal chaos from which she may only return through the intense love of those closest to her. (c) Film Movement

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Critic Reviews for Broken

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (16)

The comic and tragic elements are nicely balanced, and the three families' stories neatly and economically knit together.

Jul 19, 2013 | Full Review…

Although there are some light moments and traces of dark humor, Broken's overall aura is one of dread.

Jul 19, 2013 | Rating: 3/4

An absorbing coming-of-age drama that suddenly, pointlessly self-destructs with an onslaught of cheap ironies and overkill.

Jul 19, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

[It] drives its plot via an interesting and unusual character: the female victim who's actually a wholesale liar.

Jul 19, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

"Broken'' embraces the sort of unappealing British miserabilism perfected by "Ratcatcher" director Lynne Ramsay.

Jul 18, 2013 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

At a certain point, Mr. Norris forsakes realism for theatricalized fantasy, and "Broken" ultimately loses its stylistic cohesion, if not its humanity.

Jul 18, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/5

Audience Reviews for Broken

An eleven-year-old girl comes of age against the violent backdrop of her neighborhood. 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.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

This is a pretty damn good coming-of-age film with some top-notch performances, great cinematography. The main problem, however, is the incredibly melodramatic last act of the film, especially when it really didn't need to be as I was already invested in the characters and the story, and the fact that the film got so dramatic at the end there really took away from what had been a great movie until that point. Yes, there's a lot of symbolism in the last 10 minutes of the film but it could've beem done in a way that wasn't as emotionally exploitative as it was. Even with that I appreciated how everything in the film seemed to play a part in the ending. I don't think any scene is wasted or used for purposes that don't benefit the climax of the film, so I'm glad the film was so focused on its story. I liked the chemistry between the cast, it felt real and organic rather than rigid and heavily scripted. That works wonders when you're trying to tell this type of story and I think the kid actors, in particular Eloise Laurence, the lead actress, really benefited from that chemistry as it made them more outgoing and genuinely feel like they were a family. The writing is solid and the story, if not particularly unique, is still well-told with a great cast to certainly help elevate that story. I was a bit disappointed with the melodrama in the third act, particularly when the film had been so great without it, but this is still a damn good movie and definitely worth giving a shot to if you have Netflix.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

The story of events going on in a neighborhood is a bit engaging, but considering the overall experience the flick offers, IMO, it's mediocre at best.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

½

11 year-old Skunk (Laurence) lives in a suburban English cul-de-sac with her divorced father Archie (Roth) and 14 year-old brother Jed (Milner). Also sharing the house is Polish au-pair Kasia (Marjanovic) who has been dating Irish teacher Mike for several years but, growing tired of his fear of commitment, begins to conduct an affair with Archie. Skunk is friendly with Rick, a mentally challenged young man who is sectioned following a violent attack from neighbor Oswald, whose daughter falsely accused him of rape. When Mike rescues Skunk from an attack by Oswald's bullying young daughters, he too is accused of rape and finds himself the victim of their father's anger. 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.

The Movie Waffler
The Movie Waffler

Super Reviewer

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