Did writer/director Zoe Cassavetes intend Broken English to be an uncomfortable experience? From cursory glances at the advertising material and generally lukewarm reviews (64% positive as adjudged by Rotten Tomatoes), including an unenthusiastic critique by Cinematical'sRyan Stewart, it looked like another 'thirty-something New York City woman floundering in the dating scene' movie, another Parker Posey vehicle that could just as well be appreciated on television (Kim Voynar, on the other hand, had a generally more positive take on the film).

Then I read Anne Thompson's Variety blog on Sunday, in which she mentioned that her friends disliked the movie "mainly on the grounds that it wasn't well-made. While the movie meanders, I suspect that it made them uncomfortable. The plight of the lonely single woman is not one that many people want to deal with, really." She pointed to Lisa Rosman's exquisitely written blog entry, which was prompted by watching the film; meanwhile, I also came across a post by filmmaker Jen Prince (Eve of Understanding) at the Open Plan Films Blog; she described it as "lovely and genuine," but wondered why the film was being marketed as a comedy.

With such a confluence of thoughts, I decided to see for myself. Broken English is a very imperfect film; the pace is herky-jerky, the constant close-ups are irritating (like an invasion of your personal space) and too many moments meant to inspire emotion fall flat. Still, what affected me most were the long dramatic, silent stretches in which Parkey Posey convincingly embodies a woman who is not falling apart, but trying to hold herself together. It gets awfully lonely once all your friends are paired off and most single people of a certain age don't want to admit how desperate and agonizing it can feel, much less see it dramatized on screen. But I think the positives outweigh the negatives: Broken English deserves to be seen before it disappears from arthouse screens.
categories Cinematical