[ONE WEEK ONLY] Rufus Norris’ debut feature, Broken is a powerful British coming-of-age drama, with some scenes so real you have to look away. Based on Daniel Clay’s 2008 novel—which is itself a modern interpretation of To Kill a Mockingbird—the captivating film follows three families in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. At the center is a lonely 11-year-old, Skunk Cunningham (Eloise Laurence), who becomes jaded too soon by an unrelentingly bitter world. In the opening scene, she visits her reclusive and mentally disabled neighbor as he washes his car, when suddenly an older man shows up and beats him to a bloody pulp, believing that he raped his teenage daughter. This is the first of many brutal crises that unfold over the course of Broken, which benefits from stylish cinematography but whose nonlinear structure can be hard to follow. Laurence’s impressive performance helps to ground the film. Before bed one night, she rests with her father—a lawyer who tries to shield her from the trauma that surrounds her—and asks, “What would you do if I died, Dad? Would you cry a lot?” Yet she still shows glimpses of a playful but fading innocence, as when she giggles with her brother or ventures into a nearby junkyard. The characters’ suffering is palpable, but sincere moments of love and childlike joy show life is worth fighting for, even when all seems broken.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
- Critic's Score: B
- Watch the trailer