Theatre director Rufus Norris (‘London Road’) makes his feature debut with this rough diamond British indie drama. At its heart is the magnetic presence of winning newcomer Eloise Laurence. She plays the mythically named Skunk, a young girl living with her dad (Tim Roth) on a cul-de-sac in the suburbs.
In the spirit of Andrea Arnold’s stories, ‘Broken’ tells of a youngster whose eyelids are slowly flickering open to the world’s darker shades, and a script by Mark O’Rowe (‘Intermission’), adapted from a 2008 novel by Daniel Clay, certainly piles on bleak events. Skunk’s angry neighbour (Rory Kinnear) is raising three lively daughters alone and beating the living daylights out of a disturbed boy across the road (Robert Emms); one of Skunk’s teachers (Cillian Murphy, pictured) also finds himself at the receiving end of someone’s fists; and her dad begins a complicated relationship with the au pair (Zana Marjanovic).
If its script is a little unwieldy and overwrought at times, ‘Broken’ is still a work of delightful moments and strong promise for many of those involved. Norris works hard to inject some joy and wonder into what could easily be a much more dark and miserable experience.