Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

As The Broken Circle Breakdown shows, life can be brutal no matter how lovely the people and surroundings.

As The Broken Circle Breakdown shows, life can be brutal no matter how lovely the people and surroundings. The Oscar-nominated Belgian film from director Felix van Groeningen is a love story, tragic drama and a showcase of bluegrass and country music all in one. Didier (Johan Heldenbergh, who co-wrote the play the film is based on) is the leader of a bluegrass band who meets tattoo artist Elise (Veerle Baetens) in the early noughties. The couple fall in love and live a hipster dream’s lifestyle on Didier’s hobby farm, which the lover of Americana is renovating. Elise falls pregnant. Though it is not planned, Didier embraces the new challenge after initially hesitating and they have a beautiful daughter, Maybelle. This is a cool young family. You can’t help but fall in love with them. This nonlinear film quickly cuts back and forth to scenes throughout Didier and Elise’s relationship, from when they first meet to raising Maybelle. It’s like watching snapshots of their life via William S Burroughs’ cut-up technique on film. The challenging times follow the joyous occasions and the film is interspersed with Didier’s band playing live, which Elise eventually joins. Life gets traumatic for the young family when Maybelle gets cancer. With terrific performances by all the players, awesome country and bluegrass music and its non linear structure, The Broken Circle Breakdown isn’t a traditional tear-jerker of a cancer film, which is highlighted by Didier’s attacks on fundamentalist religion. Some critics have taken issue with this film’s political grandstanding. Didier may love Americana (especially the music) but he is a not a fan of the country’s politics, or more correctly the religious influence. Didier rants after seeing George W Bush on TV veto stem cell research, which could help his daughter. On the religion Vs science debate, Didier is science all the way. This grandstanding is vital. Like a good country song, The Broken Circle Breakdown will lift your spirits and break your heart. The Broken Circle Breakdown opens on Thursday, May 15 Rated MA  

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