*** out of ****
The Broken Circle Breakdown is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and is about the tragic journey of a beautiful loving family, which is bound for horrible grief.
It is a strange multicultural experience of a film. Made in Belgium, and unlike movies I’ve seen from that particular country, it is spoken in Flemish (one of the three major languages of the nation). It is also about a subculture of Bluegrass musicians, with affection for the old-timey American mountain culture.
A husband and wife in the band have a daughter who becomes terminally ill with cancer. The story of the injured family is told out of sequence, like many great movies about tough subjects that need to find a balancing act between beauty and despair. This film is based on a play and I imagine a setup similar to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, where its characters convey their struggles in a music venue with songs in between. The songs are gorgeous and the film is worth seeing, if just to hear them.
I found myself on a search for subtext when seeing a movie about people from a far away land associating so strongly with American culture. I think that the country music theme seems to set the most joyful tone possible for people struggling with loss.
The movie’s aesthetic style is beautifully polished -if not always realistic. The lighting and choice of weather, during certain scenes, is similar to Hollywood melodramas. This may collide with some viewers but I think it is what the film is going for. The production is gorgeous and the two talented leads are bravely naked (sometimes literally) before the camera lens. It’s a classic tragedy and its element of glamor is really up for debate.