Friday, July 13, 2007

Broken English

Woe Me

Broken English referred to, and this is the more obvious reference, the way English is not spoken by native speakers, thereby creating at times some comedic situations when accents come into play to dilute the actual meaning of the words. But Zoe Cassavete's movie isn't an outright comedy, or one which deals with language in Mind Your Language style. It's actually a dramatic look at Romance, from the point of view of a 30-something.

And this actually turned out to be a Parker Posey vehicle, as the actress takes the lead role of luckless in love Nora Wilder, who is into her 30s, and as per societal judgement, gearing towards an old maid zone. Perhaps I belong to the other gender, and hence understand some of the predicaments faced ala the movies starring Zach Braff of late (The Ex, The Last Kiss), thus not being able to fully appreciate the point of views from Cassavete's characters. But try as I could, I thought it fell short in presenting its points succinctly, instead by adding too many sub plots without much depth, the entire narrative turned out to be rather scattered.

Maybe deliberately done to highlight that life throws you the occasional curve ball that you can hardly dodge from, but watching how Nora gets put through the paces of meeting men and then finding out that their incompatible, which usually happens quite fast, Broken English initially turned out to be quite episodic. Scenes change, characters get introduced, things happen, and then the next big thing occurs. While not disjointed, it did seem a little superficial, and hardly allowing you room to feel for Nora or to be in her shoes and walk around in it a little.

Things get interesting when Parisian Julien (Melvil Poupaud), a friend of a colleague, enters her life, and then for a moment you fear the worse as shades of Before Sunrise/Sunset start to creep into their conversations of just about anything, and their gung ho attempts to spend quality time together, wherever they may be, go to, or end up at. For a minute I thought Vienna would be swapped for New York. The pace was not deliberately slow, but you can feel its length, especially during the third act when the locale gets shifted overseas, and you start to secretly hope that it'll all end soon, whatever the outcome.

Being a debutant Zoe Cassavetes written-directed by movie, I think it had shown signs of promise, just that it is unfortunately not polished enough. What made this movie watchable is the ever reliable Parker Posey performance, where the weight of the entire movie fell on her lithe frame. She made this movie bearable to continue watching despite her character's frequent misery, and kudos to her are well deserved. Watch this only if you cannot get tickets to Harry Potter.

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