Broken Circle Breakdown 109 mins. Flemish Drama (subtitles) Director: Felix Van Groeningen, Cast: Johan Heldenbergh (Didier), Veerle Baetens (Elise)
This was the last movie I saw at the First Annual La Costa Film Festival in late October 2013. I honestly didn’t expect to even like it. Boy! I was in for a surprise!
A hairy, blue-grass Flemish singer (Didier) meets a tatoo artist (Elise) and they quickly fall in love. It is youth in its most sexual, vibrant form. The graphic sexual scenes make you wish you were 25 again. As their love story evolves, they marry in an bohemian ceremony, then conceive a daughter, Maybelle. Elise joins her husband’s Blue Grass group as a talented singer.
When their daughter is diagnosed with cancer the couple’s real challenges begin. As the daughter’s condition eventually worsens it will rock the world of her grieving parents. They search for answers that will never come. How does one understand or accept the unfairnesses of life? Free-spirited Elise follows her own spirituality while Didier is driven to angrily denounce God and religion and announces that to the world at a concert. Through out the movie the scenes flash back and forth in three time frames. Normally, I don’t care for a lot of flashbacks but Director Groeningen does it so well it adds dimension to the already unfolding drama. I also didn’t think I liked Blue Grass but the foot-stomping music provided an expression throughout the movie of the emotions so aptly acted by its main two characters. Music lifts the heart, comforts, consoles and entertains. The music complimented the raw emotions of the story extraordinarily well.
Acting is exceptional. Desperately, they search for reasons, each blaming the other. Adversity does not always bond. It’s ugly head can be divisive. Your heart will break for the overwhelming anguish of the parents with an all too heartbreaking (and surprising) ending. Bring tissues.