The Broken Circle Breakdown (2013)
Critic 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.
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Critic Reviews for The Broken Circle Breakdown
The movie swings like a pendulum between elation and despair, with little time devoted to anything in between.
Traditional bluegrass songs of loss and grief provide the inspiration and score for this innovative Belgian, Flemish-language musical drama.
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.
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.
Invigorating musical elements and the lead actors' potent chemistry can't entirely protect this tragic relationship drama from its encroaching shortage of subtlety.
Audience Reviews for The Broken Circle Breakdown
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.
The deepest emotions are explored in this tragic drama: love, grief, the joy of parenthood, the depth of music, and the capacity of the human heart. The story follows Elise and Didier, who fall in love, sing in a country western band, love America but not their policies on stem cell research, have a child, get married, and deal with their daughter's illness as best they can. The story grasps at every emotion in the spectrum, and plunges deep into the heart to get the viewer's response. Threading through a story told mostly in flashbacks are performances of country western music, and we piece together a picture of their love story, and the gloomy ending of said story. It's a beautiful film that makes me tear up, as I write about it. This is not a film for the faint of heart, easily identifiable as a tearjerker and a musical masterpiece.
"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.
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