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Broken More at IMDbPro »

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Bleak view of violent, broken North Londoners and the culture

9/10
Author: maurice yacowar from Canada
23 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rufus Norris's Broken is like the early Ken Loach social dramas ramped up to the breaking point. Where British social realism centered on the working class, Broken examines three families in an upper middle class close. The characters live in spacious, well-appointed houses in a quiet North London neighborhood. So class is not an issue here. Nor is economics. Nor even is race, as the classroom easily accommodates some black children and an aerial view shows a black kid practicing his dance moves in the school parking lot -- that even the sensitive teacher Mike Kiernan (Cilliam Murphy) is too self-observed to notice. Instead of those familiar problems, here the issue is -- as you may or may not have inferred from the title -- breakage.

The people are broken. Bob Oswald (Rory Kinnear, unrecognizable) is explosively violent, especially in defense of his equally fragile/brutish three daughters. Teacher Mike can teach courage but can't marshall his own to commit to his love Kasia (Zena Marjanovic) until it's too late. The most literally broken character is Rick (Robert Emms), who suffered brain damage from a childhood drowning and here moves from being beaten by Oswald into killing his own helplessly well-meaning parents. His mother's welcome home cake may not be broken but it has collapsed.

The families are broken. Solicitor Archie (Tim Roth) lost his wife to an accountant (!) and struggles to raise his daughter Skunk (Eloise Lawrence) and son Jed (Bill Milner). Oswald's wife died, leaving him to do the ironing and to express his paternal manhood by beating up any alleged threats to his girls. Though united in love and caring, even Rick's parents quarrel loudly over how best to handle him. When Kasia loses patience with her fiancé Mike she turns to Archie, but her switch from nanny to possible stepmother rouses Skunk to feeling abandoned even by her father: "Because she'll leave us the way she left Mike. Like Mum left us. Like everyone does." Oswald loses one daughter, Archie almost loses his, and the Buckleys lose their son in the most dramatic form of family destruction.

At the root of the breakage lies a barely repressed violence. Oswald explodes twice, savagely beating first Rick, then Mike -- in trying to be a good father. But down the spectrum of violence Rick's mother (Clare Burt) tries to physically keep Rick from his room, leading to her death. Even the civilized Archie almost loses control in the police station, out of his concern for his missing diabetic daughter. He has to be restrained by his son. The gentle teacher Mike smashes a chair when he owes his freedom to his lost girl's lover.

Indeed Broken is a reflection of a broken nation, a shattered culture. There are no community norms any more, no accepted guidance for the children, no community even among the families enjoying the closeness of their close. Their father jailed, the girls throw a wild party. The characters may as well be hard scrabble screamers in the council flats. Perhaps the film's central metaphor is the automobile junkyard, where impersonal giant jaws shuffle the wrecks from place to place. There Skunk finds refuge in an abandoned van.

Skunk provides the film's one optimistic note and it's enough to balance all the despair. Like the lawyer's daughter Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, Skunk comes of age learning decency from her dad in an indecent, violent, dishonest world. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Unusually powerful

7/10
Author: cinematic_aficionado (cinematokrisis@gmail.com) from London, England
9 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Broken is very much about an angel living in a broken world.

Skunk is, in theory, just another 12 year old. But she isn't as her life's circumstances have forced her to grow up abruptly. From her mother having abandoned them to witnessing a violent attack, Skunk has a perspective that it unusual and advanced for her age.

Unfortunately for her, everything in her world is "Broken". Her mother dumped them all and went with another man, she lives on a street with several dysfunctional families with issues varying from psychopathy to outright tendency towards violence and bullying, there is nothing normal in her life. Except perhaps from her father, although he too is broken since his wife left and now has an affair with the nanny that Skunk highly disapproves. Still, he cares deeply for her and she can count on him.

A poignant study about a broken world in which there is no safety no lace of solace and no matter how innocent your soul may be and how much one tries to put it all aside by continuing to be kind and brave the brokenness will get you in the end.

An unusually powerful film, despite the fact that it comes out of a commonly used set of ingredients that are very evident in recent British film making.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Excellent

9/10
Author: drichmond123 from United States
30 December 2013

I won't review the storyline because other reviewers have done so beautifully already. I just want to say that this is an excellent film with superb acting, fantastic cinematography, a complex and interesting storyline, and an emotional draw that sucks you into the lives of these characters.

I felt like I was there, in this cul-de-sac in England, with these families who were living, laughing, loving, and struggling in so many ways.

Film buffs will appreciate the creative eye of the director and the perfect combination of setting, set design, costume, acting, score, and cinematography.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Eloise Laurence is Terrific in this Dark British Drama

7/10
Author: Larry Silverstein from United States
16 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Eloise Laurence, in her motion picture debut, is really terrific as Skunk, aka Emily Cunningham, in this extremely dark British drama. Tim Roth gives his usual very solid performance as Skunk's father Archie, a lawyer who is left to raise Skunk and her brother Jed (Bill Milner) after Archie's wife has run off with an accountant. They're aided by a live-in nanny Kosia, ably portrayed by Zana Marjanovic.

Skunk is an 11 year old girl who must face numerous challenges in addition to the loss of her mother. She's a Type 1 diabetic, who must take daily injections and constantly monitor her blood sugar levels. She also has to contend with a new school and the bullying therein, a crush on her teacher Mr. Kiernan, played by the fine actor Cillian Murphy, as well as a first boyfriend Dillon (George Sargeant) and a first real kiss.

However, even more scary and potentially more dangerous are her neighbors. There's the rageful and violent neighbor Bob Oswald, believably portrayed by Rory Kinnear, who along with his three out of control daughters are causing havoc in the neighborhood. There's also the seriously mentally disturbed Rick (Robert Emms), living across the street with his doting mother and overwhelmed father.

All of these families and characters will eventually come together in brutally stark ways. The film does little to shield the viewer from very bleak and difficult scenes.

Thank goodness for the movie's powerful ending or I may just have felt the whole film was just too depressing and unflinching for me.

All in all, Eloise Laurence's riveting presence on screen was I think the true heart of the film. Most likely this film is not for everyone with its' heavy themes, but with its' very strong ending I was glad I stayed with it.

The film was directed by Rufus Norris, an accomplished stage director but making his film debut here. It was written by Mark O'Rowe (Boy A), based on the novel by Daniel Clay.

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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

British Cinema at its best !

Author: michelesofaraway from United Kingdom
23 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

British Cinema at its best.What a great movie, with this original story, I was almost back in my childhood village. It is very easy to watch and to be drawn in by the simplistic easy going style of the director,But this story is moving tender and very realistic. Tim Roth is so excellent in this and the girl playing his daughter in the film a character Spunk is awesome and beautiful(really)along with the younger Oswald sibling. Brilliant. The acting from the girls blew me away ! So good. It kept me interested and wanting more. All the characters are played Oswald,Rick and Rick's parents everyone is placed so well,alongside remarkable direction and brilliant cinematography. AWARD winning movie.Please support this great British project. Please go and see some wonderful talented actors and actresses at there best.

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18 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

The Most Amazing Film I have Ever Seen

10/10
Author: vmcortes from United States
16 January 2013

From the moment I saw the trailer for this film, I knew I wanted to watch it, primarily because of my favorite actor, Cillian Murphy, and Tim Roth being in it. Eloise Laurence did an AMAZING job as a newcomer and had me emotional throughout the whole thing. In the end, I found myself bawling for an hour and a half and that I couldn't stop thinking about it. As Cillian Murphy has said, you know you've seen a great film when you can't stop thinking about it. Well, I definitely cannot stop thinking about this one. I give it a 10, although I am no film critic. I love this type of filmography and the way everything was portrayed in it. I definitely recommend Broken for anyone who loves touching stories just as much as I do.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

don't see what is so complicated about this

9/10
Author: T1 Brit from France
31 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a magnificent piece of drama. Outstanding in every way. But I don't get the confusion about the message in many reviews. People have said lots of things like how it's complex and the message is hard to isolate. Well it didn't seem that way to me. The message I got was that one brutal man creates a vortex of destruction that hurts everybody around him. The father of the three girls is absolutely the source of all the grief. The fact that his girls are terrified of him, leads one of them to make a false accusation. His reaction is not to find out the truth, because, you know, teenage girls are not the most reliable witnesses. Instead he launches a savage attack on an innocent ( and helpless ) man which sets in motion a chain of events leading eventually to great tragedy. This is a guy who doesn't bother much with the truth, just violently attacks people ( twice ) on the word of his highly unreliable and conniving daughters. All the other characters have their issues, sure, but they attempt to deal with them in a civilized reasonable way. It's a dysfunctional, criminal and violent family that is the villain here.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Realism except that it's all so improbable, too...well done, intense

7/10
Author: secondtake from United States
7 September 2014

Broken (2012)

A high stakes middle class melodrama that gets more and more intense—and improbable —as it goes. Well done stuff, with some disturbing insights into contemporary British suburbia.

Besides all the tense thrills of watching some rivalries between kids and parents in this world, and a couple of love affairs blossom, what is the takeaway? I've been wondering that for two days after watching it. And in a way I think there isn't any "message" or large point here. It's a slice of life kind of approach even though the "slice" here is an unrealistic bit of hyper-drama.

In a way this kind of interwoven tale of ordinary people experiencing extraordinary things (like murder) is a justification in itself. It's a high-drama movie, nothing less. That it is well made and well acted is a bonus. And the fact it manages to touch on issues of intolerance and misunderstanding in our current world is valuable. In all, well done, and well meant.

It also avoids what you might call insight, for lack of a better word. That is, there are all these horrible events (and some lovely ones) and we don't quite know why that are happening, or why not, other than because of circumstance. The underlying psychology, and social fabric, is supplied only sparingly, though it is implied often. What results is still quite dramatic, but why do I feel drained and incomplete by it all?

See this? Yes, absolutely. But knowing its deeper limitations.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Very Moving and Poignant from the eyes of a 11 year old

8/10
Author: Ajit Tiwari from India
30 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An incredibly well acted drama with a lot of warmth and heart. "Broken" is a British realism at its best, it has been crafted so well and with such sensitivity that the audience cannot help but be touched.

The 11-year-old Skunk (Eloise Laurence) lives in a seemingly normal neighborhood in a British suburb. A mentally retarded teenager Rick (Robert Emms), lives with his parents in the neighborhood. Also nearby lives, a short-tempered widowed father, Mr. Oswald (Rory Kinnear) with his three daughters. Skunk lives with her father Archie (Tim Roth) and her brother Jed (Bill Milner) and housekeeper Kasia (Zana Marjanovic) – her mother ran off years ago with another man. Everything is as usual, until one day at the beginning of summer vacation: the eldest daughter of Oswald's alleged that Rick they she has been raped by him. Mr. Oswald beats defenseless Rick viciously. The story is based around documents, but above all their consequences. Parallelly narrated the various family fates with Skunk as a kind of common thread among them, and what was behind the attack and the implications, then get up slowly unraveling.

The acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris makes his film debut with "Broken" and that he does! He has an amazing eye for detail which is emphasized by the camera revealing close-ups which incidentally in Rob Hardy's hands all the way he does a great job. The cinematography is warm, almost shimmering but goes even so believable together with the barren suburbs and the environment in which the film is set. It is also incredibly edited. Amid the touching and poignant story, it gets spectators to keep the spirit of anticipation.

Towards the end it unfortunately becomes somewhat of a hurry, there is much that has a place and everything should not the space it deserves. I would have liked to rise against and also the culmination itself had to take more time, and indeed the film had at all with the benefit could be half an hour longer.

"Broken" is an absolutely amazing experience with great music and superb actors , from the brilliant young débutant Eloise Laurence (Skunk) to the more experienced Tim Roth (Daddy) and Cillian Murphy (teacher Mike) everyone does a phenomenal work with such precise and small means and it feels more than visible.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"Eloquently romantic, invariably engaging and virtuous indie..."

8/10
Author: Sindre Kaspersen from Norway
29 April 2013

English theatre and film director Rufus Norris' feature film debut which was written by Irish screenwriter and playwright Mark O'Rowe, is an adaptation of a novel from 2008 by author Daniel Clay. It premiered in the Special Screenings section of the International Critics' Week at the 65th Cannes International Film Festival in 2012, was shot on location in England and is a United Kingdom production which was produced by producers Bill Kenwright, Tally Garner, Dixie Linder and Nick Marston. It tells the story about a girl named Skunk Cunningham who lives with her brother named Jed, their father named Archie who is a solicitor and their Polish nanny named Kasia. A father named Bob Oswald who lives with his three daughters named Saskia, Susan and Sunrise, a man named Rick Buckley who lives with his parents named Janet and Dave and Kasia's boyfriend named Mike Kiernan who is a teacher.

Distinctly and subtly directed by English filmmaker Rufus Norris, this finely tuned fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the main character's point of view, draws an incisive and intriguing portrayal of an 11-year-old schoolchild with diabetes and her relationship with her father, her brother, her teacher, a neighbour and a boy named Dillon. While notable for its naturalistic and atmospheric milieu depictions, sterling production design by English production designer and art director Kave Quinn, cinematography by British cinematographer Rob Hardy and use of colors and light, this narrative-driven story about the rites of passage, false accusations, physical assault, bullying, friendship and mental illness depicts several heartfelt and heartrending studies of character and contains a great score by music supervision company Electric Wave Bureau.

This dramatic, conscientious, sociological and affectionate character piece which is set mostly in a neighbourhood in England and where an array of happenings brings the lives of three English families together, is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented and brilliant narrative structure, substantial character development, subtle continuity, interrelated stories, colorful and contrasting characters and memorable acting performances by actress Eloise Laurence in her debut feature film role, English actor and director Tim Roth, Irish actor Cillian Murphy, English actor Rory Kinnear, English actor Robert Emms, Bosnian actress Zana Marjanovic, actress Martha Bryant and actor George Sargeant. An eloquently romantic, invariably engaging and virtuous indie which gained the award for Best British Independent Film at the 15th British Independent Film Awards in 2012.

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