The Broken Circle Breakdown


The Broken Circle Breakdown

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 101


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,010
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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


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Critic Reviews for The Broken Circle Breakdown

All Critics (101) | Top Critics (29) | Fresh (83) | Rotten (18)

  • 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 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The movie swings like a pendulum between elation and despair, with little time devoted to anything in between.

    Jan 30, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Traditional bluegrass songs of loss and grief provide the inspiration and score for this innovative Belgian, Flemish-language musical drama.

    Jan 24, 2014 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 24, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 24, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Invigorating musical elements and the lead actors' potent chemistry can't entirely protect this tragic relationship drama from its encroaching shortage of subtlety.

    Jan 24, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Broken Circle Breakdown

  • Dec 31, 2015
    A film about passion within a relationship, within their love of their music, within the tragedy of the story that unfolds. The Broken Circle Breakdown may well be the movie find of the year that has had the most profound impact to me; for it is raw, real and connected and within its darkest colour hues there is such a bright light shining out. I cannot recommend it enough.
    Nicolas K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2015
    A bluegrass-playing couple's child battles cancer and tests their relationship. One of the most heart-breaking and beautiful films I've seen in a long time, The Broken Circle Breakdown is master story-telling. The narration jumps back and forth in time, and each sequence is an emotional roller-coaster. I marvel most at the perfect choices in scene structure. Putting the first morning sequence before the first meeting sequence adds an element of mystery to this woman and their relationship. Even the scene-level choices are excellent: when the child comes home - how many songs did they have to consider before deciding on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," which works perfectly with the theme and the emotional effect of the moment? Overall, I had to look back at the other nominees for Best Foreign Language film, and while I understand why The Great Beauty won, I only now realize how tough a choice that was.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • May 07, 2014
    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.
    Mark A Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2014
    Belgium brought a long a rhythmic melodrama of a musical upbeat spirit, but with a tragic essence lying underneath, featuring the ups and downs of an unconventional duet when they are forced to face the possible loss of their most sacred bond: their own daughter. At the center, music is placed. The fusion between the characters, the story and the Bluegrass style make an excellent combination to feed the film with interesting fuel, but it is the Bluegrass which acts as a unique bond between the two protagonists and unites their passionate love and different perspectives about the American culture, music and religion, trying to consummate them into something of eternal length. Nevertheless, there were two fundamental factors in their lives that brought down the whole romantic edifice: - Both were not ready to begin taking decisions about somebody else's life. - Both had differing religious views. This is the most important feature, because it is a fact that different beliefs condemn a marriage to never work literally 100% of the times (as proved by the Bible and supported by Social Research). Regarding the second point, the plot description made it clear since the beginning that both characters had different views, and the first minutes of the film reaffirmed this. My initial forecast was that such an issue would have to play an important role in the development of the events. It actually did, making me increase my final rating. This conflict should be placed in a very important place regarding the analysis of the film, because it makes the entire final result more meaningful. The entire final product seems like a Hollywood melodrama recycled for the thousandth time that was desperately trying to improve during the last 10 minutes with forced and rather questionable editing techniques that made the audiences scratch their heads. Nevertheless, more meaningful substance than the one offered by the typical romantic story is addressed without the need of being exaggerated, and a strong appeal towards marital responsibility and the sacred power of parenthood are exalted with a dedication from the cast to the performance of country music that deserves one big applause. 73/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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