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The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  10 October 2012 (Belgium)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 26,723 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 56 user | 195 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

Elise and Didier fall in love at first sight, in spite of their differences. He talks, she listens. He's a romantic atheist, she's a religious realist. When their daughter becomes seriously ill, their love is put on trial.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 33 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Johan Heldenbergh ...
Nell Cattrysse ...
Geert Van Rampelberg ...
Nils De Caster ...
Robbie Cleiren ...
Jimmy (as Robby Cleiren)
Bert Huysentruyt ...
Sofie Sente
Ruth Beeckmans ...
(as Ruth Beekmans)
Jan Hammenecker ...
Blanka Heirman ...
Kirsten Pieters
Yves Degryse
Dominique Van Malder


Elise and Didier fall in love at first sight. She has her own tattoo shop and he plays the banjo in a bluegrass band. They bond over their shared enthusiasm for American music and culture, and dive headfirst into a sweeping romance that plays out on and off stage - but when an unexpected tragedy hits their new family, everything they know and love is tested. An intensely moving portrait of a relationship from beginning to end, propelled by a soundtrack of foot-stomping bluegrass, The Broken Circle Breakdown is a romantic melodrama of the highest order. Written by Tribeca Film

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Music | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

10 October 2012 (Belgium)  »

Also Known As:

Krah razbijenog kruga  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,100 (USA) (1 November 2013)


$30,700 (USA) (15 November 2013)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Official submission of Belgium to the Oscars 2014 best foreign language film category. See more »


Didier Bontinck: I am an ape. And I'm afraid.
See more »


Referenced in L'incertitude des choses (2013) See more »


Sand Mountain
Written by Johnny Bellar
Performed by The BCB Band
See more »

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User Reviews

A voyage into love's danger zones
21 October 2013 | by (Old London, New England) – See all my reviews

There are very few films as emotionally raw and truthful as 'The Broken Circle Breakdown'. Set in Belgium, and somewhat reminiscent of 'Betty Blue', it tells of the love affair between Didier and Elise - a bluegrass musician and a tattoo artist. The story begins with the couple attending to their young daughter's needs in a cancer ward as she battles for her life against the disease. Flashback sequences portray the couple's initial meeting, the mad passion of their early romance, and some excellent bluegrass numbers by Didier's band after Elise joins them as a vocalist. After a while the enchanting Maybelle enters their lives.

Back at the hospital seven years later, the child endures the toxic effects of chemotherapy, her health alternately improving and deteriorating, while the parents accompany her on an agonizing roller-coaster ride. At the end of this passage, fracture lines appear in the couple's deep bond as they embark on the next stage of their journey. Atheist Didier rails against a god that could have inflicted such cruel treatment upon his innocent daughter, while Elise struggles to process her anguish and rediscover hope. Somehow their heroic odyssey into the deepest regions of pain is neither pessimistic nor depressing, and their story communicates profound insights about the need for love, forgiveness and understanding in extreme circumstances. By contrast, it makes most Hollywood productions look like trite insults to human intelligence. Perhaps they are - and maybe audiences should look elsewhere for authentic artistic expression. This film suggests Belgian cinema might be somewhere to start the search.

40 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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