Country and tattoos in Van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown
09/09/2011 - In 2008, Ghent-based theatre company Cécilia staged The Broken Circle Breakdown and the Cover-Ups of Alabama, a theatrical-musical creation that had a real flavour of the American West, full of blues, cowboy boots, Stetsons and country singers. The conceptually strong and innovative play was led by a band of banjo-playing cowboys. It didn’t fail to intrigue audiences, among which was Flemish director Felix Van Groeningen (pictured).
After the national and international success of his previous film, The Misfortunates [trailer, film focus] (adapted from a best-selling novel by Dimitri Verhulst), Van Groeningen decided to launch into a new adaptation. How do you make a screen adaptation of this musical comedy centred on melancholic, music-loving cowboys and cowgirls?
He hired Carl Joos (co-screenwriter with Erik Van Looy on The Alzheimer Case and more recently The K File [trailer] [trailer], also known for his work on Flemish detective series), and the two heroes of the play, Monroe and Alabama, were transformed into Didier, a banjo player, and Elise, a tattoo salon manager.
Their mad love soon leads to the birth of a little girl, Maybelle, but will their love survive the loss of this little girl? The music expresses the impossibility of mourning, the battle of amorous passion, the raw pain of this incomprehensible loss.
Didier is played by Johan Heldenbergh, one of Van Groeningen’s loyal collaborators (he appeared in Steve+Sky and The Misfortunates), who co-wrote the original play, and played the role on stage. Veerle Baetens has been cast in the role of Elise. This renowned young Flemish actress has a filmography that switches between TV and cinema (she has appeared in major hits like Loft [trailer], as well as Storm Force 10, Zot van A, and will soon be seen in Code 37).
The film, whose shoot kicked off in mid-July and is about to wrap up, is produced for Menuet by Dirk Impens (who has worked with Van Groeningen since his debut film). It will be distributed next autumn by Kinepolis. It received backing from VAF, the Nerderlands Film Fond and Eurimages.