sat 15/08/2020

DVD: The Broken Circle Breakdown | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Broken Circle Breakdown

DVD: The Broken Circle Breakdown

Felix Van Groeningen's fourth film is a wonderfully idiosyncratic love story

Crazy in love: stars Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh

A fascinating and heart-breaking relationship is charted through cross-cutting flashbacks (a technique recently used in Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, which this film has a lot in common with), which hint at future happiness and sorrow. In this Flemish film from Felix Van Groeningen, tattooist Elise falls madly in love with cowboy and bluegrass musician Didier who’s more than a little obsessed with America. We then witness their highs and lows as their young daughter, Maybelle, is treated for a life-threatening disease.

At odds with each other from the beginning, Elise seeks spiritual guidance to help her through hard times, whereas Didier is a firm realist. This complex piece glides along and whips you around in a myriad of high emotion as beliefs and philosophy are wrangled with. Every performance and every note of country music is ripe with passion, though some of the more heavy handed political dialogue (such as discussion relating to stem cell research) is difficult to digest. Didier’s difficult love affair with America, his adoration and emulation of its country music, fashion and culture is strangely juxtaposed with his political beliefs and agnostic views.

Just as this couple reach what seems to be their lowest, most desperate ebb you are taken back to the roots of their relationship, a ray of hope, to see both the good and bad times. The Broken Circle Breakdown presents us with a bricolage of Americana from The Carter Family’s Christian hymn about a loved-one dying (from which the film playfully takes its title) to references to the father of bluegrass Bill Monroe; it not only reaches back into musical history but music provides a melancholic accompaniment to the strife and sadness that surge from this film, as we are also reminded that music can be a highly effective, cathartic release.

The agony and ecstasy of love, life, family, friendship and shattered dreams is rendered particularly sobering and moving thanks to the committed performances from the two lead actors Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for The Broken Circle Breakdown

It not only reaches back into musical history but music provides a melancholic accompaniment to the strife and sadness that surge from this film.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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