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'The Broken Circle Breakdown' review: A powerful, heartbreaking, foreign triumph

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The Broken Circle Breakdown


Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, “The Broken Circle Breakdown” is a unique film full of emotion. Told in a non-linear format, the audience simultaneously experiences the rollercoaster of the couple’s destruction and birth.

Hearing their young daughter has cancer, Elise (Veerle Baetens) and Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) handle their pained struggle separately. Cutting the story of their daughter’s fight and their reactions, Elise and Didier’s past meshes with the present. They found a love of America and bluegrass music and performed it together. Though Elise searches life for signs of God, Didier is a strict atheist, but somehow their love brought their strange worlds together. As they cope with their daughter’s pain, their differences become more pronounced and challenging.

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” is one of the most profoundly emotional films. It rips your emotions to shreds, especially for a parent, as the couple’s endurance is tested. Coming from different worlds (she is covered in tattoos and he’s a country man), Elise and Didier share a beautiful love. The musical performances heighten the emotion to a real intensity. Rarely does film convey so much emotion through its music, but “The Broken Circle Breakdown” finds a place on the mantel next to films such as “Once” and “Dancer in the Dark” as incredible, weighty musicals.

There is a raw openness to the film, exposing the tragic tale of love. Not a typical tearjerker, “The Broken Circle Breakdown” will resonate with fans of films like “Blue Valentine” and “Amour.” It stands out in such a way that it will leave a mark on the viewer, leaving you forever changed.

Personal sidenote: I sobbed uncontrollably, so keep the tissues handy.

Rating for “The Broken Circle Breakdown:” A+

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“The Broken Circle Breakdown” is available for rental through places like Amazon Instant Video or Netflix.


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