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Mitchell's Top 20 Films of 2013: #15 "The Broken Circle Breakdown"

"The Broken Circle Breakdown" (2013)
"The Broken Circle Breakdown" (2013)
Tribeca Films, Kinepolis Film Distribution

15. “The Broken Circle Breakdown” - This Belgian import offers a familiar story of Boy meets Girl, however, director Felix Van Groeningen’s marvelously eclectic blend of love, heartbreak and bluegrass music is anything but ordinary.

He takes us on an extraordinary trip which showcases a few years of Didier’s (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise’s (Veerle Baetens) relationship.

Didier, the leader of a talented bluegrass band, runs into Elise and instantly falls for her.

Elise, a tattoo artist attracted to avant-garde places and people, does not have the word “shy” in her vocabulary.

With a renegade outlook and plenty of tattoo ink, she owns the moxie to sport an American flag bikini and crawl on the hood of a truck - like Tawny Kitaen's spunky blonde-haired cousin - in broad daylight to impress her man.

Love is in the air, and their torrid love affair affectionately matures into something more special.

Over the course of the film, Grogeningen takes a welcomed approach and presents the material in a nonlinear timeline.

Flashbacks become commonplace, and this style helps contrast the emotions between present and past.

We see all the stages of a relationship, at times, some moments are very difficult to absorb.

The material can be very visceral at times but is also balanced with beautiful music performances.

Everyone in the movie speaks Flemish, but the music is American, and Elise (who becomes a warmly-received addition to the band), Didier and the others sing English on stage.

Bluegrass fans will recognize, enjoy and toe-tap the popular hits, but be warned: sometimes the pain from troubled times can unfortunately seep into their the music as well.

The Broken Circle Breakdown” is a most memorable movie, and its narrative holds us captive and in awe for nearly two hours.

I saw the film many months later, I remember those 111 minutes extremely well.

Follow me on Twitter: @MitchFilmCritic

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