The Broken Circle Breakdown

Film, Drama
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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The Broken Circle Breakdown

This hipster weepie from Belgium has left audiences in puddles of snivelling slush. I have to admit it left me a little cold. Like ‘Blue Valentine’ it tells the story of a couple falling in and out of love by flashing back and forward in time.

In hospital, a doctor tells Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (Veerle Baetens) that their six-year-old daughter has cancer. In the next scene we see them seven years earlier in the first flush of love, everything sunshine and hope. He’s a dude with beard and a banjo who plays in a bluegrass band – the music gives the film its heart. She’s a rockabilly girl covered in tattoos. There’s a look in his eye like he can’t believe this woman wants to be with him. The trick of flicking between then and now is incredibly poignant. And Heldenbergh and Baetens pull you in with committed performances ­– their raw pain and grief is totally believable. But all that honest, intense emotion is thrown away as the film outstays its welcome by 40 minutes or so, piling one tragedy on to another.

By: Cath Clarke


Release details

Cast and crew

Director: Felix van Groeningen
Screenwriter: Johan Heldenbergh, Mieke Dobbels
Cast: Johan Heldenbergh
Veerle Baetens
Nell Cattrysse
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