Amazon Prime film review: Broken
Chris Bryant | On 08, Jul 2013
Director: Rufus Norris
Cast: Eloise Laurence, Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy, Rory Kinnear
Watch Broken online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / iTunes / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Three sets of neighbours live down a cul-de-sac. A series of lies, misunderstandings and rash actions lead to several violent, inexplicable and painful events. The chain begins with Bob (a defensive, violent Rory Kinnear) attacking Rick, a lonely, simple boy living with his parents. Why? A lie told by one of Bob’s daughters, a lie that leads to suspicions and arguments, which in turn lead to even more problems.
Eloise Laurence plays Skunk, an 11 year old diabetic who lives in the house between Bob and Rick. She’s the centrepiece for the action as it unfolds. The impressive actress brings the quirky, friendly child to life, making her intelligent, odd and completely believable. Her father, Tim Roth’s Archie, is of a similar breed; tough and thoughtful, he keeps out of the lies and attacks as much as possible and is mostly pictured looking after his children.
The most explosive cast member, though, is easily Kinnear – a man who violently attacks people within minutes of hearing they’ve hurt his daughters, without any proof or questions. Kinnear does extremely well to stop Bob becoming a hateful, blind cliché; although his actions are rash, a few key scenes where he holds his daughters suggest he is really no different from Tim Roth. Cillian Murphy joins the sturdy, subtle ensemble as Skunk’s broken-hearted teacher Mike, completing a circle of people all fighting for those they love.
The plot is cleverly arranged and almost always intriguing, edgy and sad. Our will for the characters to realise the consequences of their actions is a testament to both their performances and Rufus Norris’ writing and direction. The overall feel of the film, though, is inconsistent – Norris’ juggling of plots is either the film’s greatest triumph, or an unsettling distraction.
In one scene, a possibly autistic teen is being assaulted for an act he never committed; in the next, an interesting young girl is having her first kiss with a tracsuited skinhead whose cocky accent is in direct contrast to how sweet he actually is. These uneven shifts in mood will make or break the film, depending on the viewer.
But Broken leaves you to your own conclusions. It mirrors real events, showing the impact every tiny action can have. It’s a film about family and love; funny and tough, light-hearted and cruel. It hints at the quirks of Submarine and at the despair of Tyrannosaur. Though the wavering tone is unsettling and strange, nothing about it suggests it is an accident. Norris’ drama is a brave and accomplished twang on your heartstrings.
The extras on the DVD are essentially a list of short EPK interviews with each major member of the cast and crew. Beginning with “What is the film ‘Broken’ about?” director Rufus Norris states it is “about different forms of love, but the triumph of unconditional love” – a revealing and perfect statement. Each of the cast give their own views and stories about working on the film, some like Tim Roth pausing deeply before each question. That’s not to say otherwise of Cillian Murphy or Robert Emms, who focus their answers more towards their own role in the film. As their characters are both pictured as kind and loving, their experience of Broken seems to be more based around reactions to deceit than the anger shown by Rory Kinnear (who states Broken is about “the way small triggers can lead to monumental events”). The interviews are relatable enough but after such an impressive film, a little more depth and insight could be offered.
Broken is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.