Sunday, 9 February 2014

Broken Circle Breakdown





This is a film of contradictions – and as a Flemish bluegrass film, why wouldn’t it be? I loved it and was wasted by it. It is simultaneously a bit slow and intensely passionate. The central couple is intimate and supportive but they have trouble connecting when it counts. But mostly the contradictions live in the central character (played by the co-author of the original play the film is based on). 

This character, Didier, is a contemporary European atheist who comes alive most deeply in his love of spiritual American bluegrass music. When tragedy strikes (the film, which weaves back and forth in time quite effectively, begins with their daughter being treated for leukemia), Didier’s inner battle emerges in his anguish. His rant against religion (mostly fundamentalism but his critique is broad) is about as intense as you’re ever going to hear. (So don’t watch this unless you’re ok with your faith getting kicked in the head now and then.) But can you have that much passion unless you’re actually desperate to believe that the music you love is more true than you know? And what the heck are the filmmakers' trying to say in the last couple of scenes? 

This is a very impressive film – beautifully filmed, with great acting, laced through with awesome music (and I’m not normally a huge fan of bluegrass). And so I would love to recommend this film. But the last contradiction is that I can’t. I’ll give it ***+ and a mug held high, but don’t watch this unless your emotional seatbelt is fastened and you don’t mind no-holds-barred attempts to sort out a world of pain, reason, and faith.

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