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Critic Reviews for Broken
The comic and tragic elements are nicely balanced, and the three families' stories neatly and economically knit together.
Although there are some light moments and traces of dark humor, Broken's overall aura is one of dread.
[It] drives its plot via an interesting and unusual character: the female victim who's actually a wholesale liar.
"Broken'' embraces the sort of unappealing British miserabilism perfected by "Ratcatcher" director Lynne Ramsay.
At a certain point, Mr. Norris forsakes realism for theatricalized fantasy, and "Broken" ultimately loses its stylistic cohesion, if not its humanity.
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.
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.
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.
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