Focus on The Broken Circle Breakdown

Focus on The Broken Circle Breakdown

Flemish director Félix Van Groeningen returns to Belgian screens with a heartbreaking melodrama, The Broken Circle Breakdown.

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 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.

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, a surprise favourite at its screening in Cannes, and a great success amongst audiences when it was released in Belgium.

by Aurore Engelen