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Ivan is the fierce patriarch of a family of Croatian refugees in Auckland. Nina is his daughter, ready to live on her own, despite his angry objections. Eddie is the Maori she takes as her lover. Nina works at a restaurant where Eddie cooks. For a price, she agrees to marry a Chinese, another restaurant employee, so that he (and his Chinese wife) can establish permanent residency. The money gives her the independence she needs to leave her parents' house and move in with Eddie. Complications arise when Eddie realizes the depth of her father's fury and the strength of Nina's family ties. Written by
This movie was hard to track down. Living as I do in America, I had to order a VHS copy. I saw the NC-17 version, by the way, which I didn't find to be too graphic. The sex scene was extremely sexy and I thought the actors playing Nina and Eddie, the young couple at the center of the movie, had a ton of chemistry. You could believe they were attracted to each other. Nina, the Croation daughter of Ivan, was an interesting character: a wild rebel and a scared child eager to remain her father's favorite all in one. The actor who played Ivan did the best job, as a man who fled his homeland due to ethnic cleansing and finds himself obsessed with race and dissatisfied with his new life in New Zealand. The beginning half of this movie was more enjoyable than the latter half, when the story devolves into a slightly predictable romantic comedy and none of the interesting implications about class, race, and family are dealt with in a serious way. However, a lot of romantic movies never even ask the audience to think about anything greater at all, so Broken English still comes out ahead of more traditional movie fare. Perhaps it's because this movie comes from the producers of "Once Were Warriors" which is one of my favorite dramas of all time. Watch for the romance between Nina and Eddie (played by Julien Arahanga from "Once Were Warriors",) Ivan, and Martin Csokas' portrayal of Ivan's menacing son.
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