The Broken Circle Breakdown

If you’ve been yearning for a hard-hitting bluegrass-infused Flemish drama, your wait is finally over. The Broken Circle Breakdown stands as one of the year’s more unique films, a depressing ride through the lives of Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (Veerle Baetens), who must overcome their daughter’s illnesses and their own struggles, too. Based on a play co-written by Heldenbergh, Broken Circle is Belgium’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. Director Felix Van Groeningen bounces around from one point in the relationship to another, not sticking to linear chronology. That makes the film a little hard to follow in spots, but it’s so good and involving, you just keep watching. Weirdly, the bluegrass—sung in English—holds the film together. The musical numbers are great and intimate, and somehow or other, they work to balance and punctuate the sadness in the story.

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