Monday, May 13, 2013

Review: Broken (Rufus Norris, 2012)

Broken is an engrossing British social-realist drama, the feature-film debut from acclaimed theatre and opera director Rupert Norris. It chronicles the interweaving lives of three families who share a north London suburban street and the bright and innocent youngster, Skunk (an excellent debut performance from natural screen presence Eloise Laurence), caught up in the emotional turmoil.

The conflict is sparked by Skunk's problem neighbors, the Oswalds. Her solicitor father, Archie (Tim Roth), teacher, Mike (Cillian Murphy), and mentally challenged neighbor, Rick (Robert Emms), are drawn into the web of affairs following the allegations made against Mike and Rick by Mr Oswald's (Rory Kinnear) daughter, and the violent outbursts he unleashes as a repercussion.

This is quite an intense story. There are some affecting sequences, especially between Skunk and her father, but also some amusing and heartwarming coming-of-age moments. The well-written exchanges between Skunk and a young man from the neighborhood are amongst the film's brightest.

Ultimately, the story takes on a bit too much; feeling contrived and leaving some of the developments unconvincing and hard to accept, but this thoughtfully constructed drama deals with some relevant issues - broken family and community ties, physical empowerment and bullying, and health privilege and entitlement - quite competently, and boasts some strong performances from both newcomers and veterans alike.

My Rating: ★★★


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