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The Broken Circle Breakdown

Written and directed by Felix Van Groeningen

Belgium, 2012

Some things are universal, crossing moral or literal boundaries. Some situations are, when described, so inherently sad that it’s hard not to well up with tears, just as some music is so joyous and hopeful that it’s hard not to react positively no matter where you’re from. Such is the power and the curse of The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium’s entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that embraces Americana so wholeheartedly and spurns it in equal turn, and presents a scenario so nakedly emotional and manipulative that responding with an outpouring of emotion is almost too easy. This film gets an A for effort, but it tries too hard to get a common enough response.

The basic story is about how Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (Veerle Baetens) meet in 1999—he a bluegrass singer, »

- Josh Spiegel

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