Mental disability, divorce, first boyfriends, teen pregnancy, bullying….yes, there is a lot going on in “Broken.” And while the first trailer for the film does at least highlight the strong performances from the cast, it’s too bad it’s in service of a picture that doesn’t quite do their work justice.
Directed by Rufus Norris, and based on the novel by Mark O’Rowe, the story centers on 11-year-old diabetic Skunk (Eloise Laurence) who is facing a lot of changes in her life. Her stepmom, Kasia (Zana Marjanovic), is dating Mike (Cillian Murphy) who also happens to be Skunk’s schoolteacher, though her father Archie (Tim Roth) still stops by almost every night. Skunk is starting a relationship with her first boyfriend, is being threatened by a mean-spirited neighbor, and there is even more drama happening outside her orbit, with a few plot threads that will wind up connecting in the end. Yes, it’s one of those movies.
“Broken” premiered at the Cannes Critics’ Week in May, and we said in our review: “Tonally, the film is all over the place, ranging from heavy drama to broad comedy, and while that, in theory, could work in the hands of the right director, Norris doesn’t have the nuance or subtlety to pull it off.” Indeed, the film also keeps piling on the plot twists to the point of exhaustion, with a last act that doesn’t quite work and nearly gives up on the narrative.
It’s unfortunate, because Laurence, at the very least, establishes herself as a young actress worth watching, and she’s perhaps the single recommendation we’d have for tracking this one down. “Broken” opens in France on August 22nd, but there is no U.S. distributor or date just yet. [FirstShowing]