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Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

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A flamboyant melodrama


- A heartbreaking melodrama based on a play. Winner of the Prize of the Public and Europa Cinemas Label at the Panorama in the 2013 Berlinale.

Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

Flemish director Félix Van Groeningen returns to Belgian screens with a heartbreaking melodrama, The Broken Circle Breakdown [+see also:
film focus
interview: Felix van Groeningen
interview: Felix Van Groeningen
interview: Felix Van Groeningen
festival scope
film profile
. While everything sets them apart, Elise and Didier fall madly in love with each other. They get married, have a child, and live happily, in harmony. A harmony of opposites: he is a banjo-player, she runs a tattoo salon; he is an atheist but his head is in the clouds, she wears a cross on her back but is very down to earth. Until the sickness of little Maybelle ruins this beautiful harmony. Each one of them will have to fight with their own weapons, faith for one, music for the other. Rather like a sequel to Declaration of War [+see also:
film profile
by Valérie Donzelli (we again find Elise and Didier, not during, but after the ordeal), the threatened fate of their offspring will shake the fragile balance of their relationship. While one film is a brilliantly dramatic comedy, the other fully assumes its genre as a melodrama. The strength with which the main actors embody their characters serves to heighten the emotion. Verle Baetens (discovered in the successful series Sara and Code 37) is remarkable, and as for Johan Heldenbergh, he imparts the force of his experience into this story inspired by his own life, which he first adapted successfully for the stage and then for the cinema.

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Behind the camera, we find Felix Van Groeningen, on whom Flemish cinema can depend to attract movie fans and the general public, which is what he had managed to do with his previous film The Misfortunates [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Felix van Groeningen
film profile
, a surprise favourite at its screening in Cannes, and a great success amongst audiences when it was released in Belgium.


international title: The Broken Circle Breakdown
original title: The Broken Circle Breakdown
country: Belgium
sales agent: The Match Factory
year: 2012
directed by: Felix van Groeningen
screenplay: Carl Joos, Felix van Groeningen
cast: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh

main awards/selection

Berlinale 2013 Panorama Special
CPH PIX 2013 Audience Award
Tribeca Film Festival 2013 
Seattle International Film Festival 2013 
Festival du Film de Cabourg 2013 
Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2013 
La Rochelle International Film Festival 2013 
Paris Cinéma 2013 
Two Riversides Film and Art Festival 2013 
Sarajevo Film Festival 2013 
Film by the Sea Film Festival 2013 
Quebec City Film Festival 2013 
Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 
Hamptons International Film Festival 2013 
Hawaii Film Festival 2013 
Santa Fe Independent Film Festival 2013 
Stockholm International Film Festival 2013 
St. Louis International Film Festival 2013 
Osaka European Film Festival 2013 

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