12 user 24 critic

Broken English (1996)

NC-17 | | Drama, Romance | 2 May 1997 (USA)
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 ... See full summary »


Gregor Nicholas
7 wins. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rade Serbedzija ... Ivan
Aleksandra Vujcic ... Nina
Julian Arahanga ... Eddie
Marton Csokas ... Darko
Madeline McNamara Madeline McNamara ... Mira
Jing Zhao Jing Zhao ... Clara
Li Yang Li Yang ... Wu
Elizabeth Mavric Elizabeth Mavric ... Vanya
Temuera Morrison ... Manu
Michael Langley Michael Langley ... Jura
Morena Tutuguro Morena Tutuguro ... Sashka
Mona Ross Mona Ross ... Auntie Marja
Barbara Cartwright Barbara Cartwright ... Jasmin
Patrick Wilson Patrick Wilson ... Dave
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson ... Doug


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sometimes when you make love you make war.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for explicit sexuality | See all certifications »


Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics


New Zealand

Release Date:

2 May 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Broken English See more »

Filming Locations:

Auckland, New Zealand See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


[On the desire to have a baby]
Clara: We want to make a little kiwi.
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Alternate Versions

A graphic sex scene was cut to be re-rated R. Complete NC-17 edition is available on video. See more »

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User Reviews

Sometimes love means war - but only for the parents
15 January 1999 | by Philby-3See all my reviews

Nina, young, beautiful and sexy, driven out from war-torn Croatia, has emigrated with her family to Auckland, New Zealand. Why New Zealand? Well it seems Mum was born there (there is an old established "Dalmatian" community in the region famously associated with the wine industry). Dad has quickly found work as a building contractor and seems to be doing well. Ironically, having been driven out of his own country by Serbian ethnic cleansing, he finds NZ's mild multi-racial society impossible to tolerate, at least when his gorgeous daughter falls seriously in lust with Eddie, a handsome Maori, in the kitchen of the Chinese restaurant where they both work. Being a fairly typical NZ movie, the theme is played for comedy rather than tragedy, though there is plenty of tension. An erotic scene early on dissolves into a minor domestic mishap. Cars get their windows smashed but no-one gets their head smashed in. The real tragedy is back home in Croatia via home videos from remaining relatives. The young couple progress from 90% lust /10% affection to about 50/50, though it's a rocky road. Dad however just can't adjust. Civil enough with his Tongan ("coconut") neighbours, the idea of his little girl having it off with any Maori sends him ballistic (it could have been worse - the lover might have been Serbian). With his knucklehead son, he attempts to break them up, with predictable lack of success. It's a great sketch of a tough, admirable (in some ways) but unadaptable man. Why is he like that? At the end we're none the wiser. Nor do we get to understand Mum's position, which seems to be total submission. She may be NZ born but she isn't a typical post 1960 NZ wife. There's a mildly amusing sub-plot regarding an immigration scam run by Nina and Eddies's employer, with the characters involved verging on caricature. But the main theme is that youth will do what it's going to do (sex, mostly) for good or ill and the oldies might as well stand clear. A nicely made and well paced light piece from the producers of the rather more serious "Once Were Warriors."

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