The Broken Circle Breakdown


“The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium’s official submission to the Foreign Language Oscars, is an ebullient, life-affirming movie about the most depressing subject imaginable: a couple dealing with the impending death of their young daughter.

“Director Felix Van Groeningen take us back and forth in time through the relationship between the tattoo artist Elise and Didier, a banjo player for a local small-time bluegrass band. Elise and Didier make an unlikely couple: She’s blond and striking and several years younger than Didier, who is a shaggy, unkempt bear of a man who thinks America is the greatest place on Earth. Elise has spiritual faith and Didier is a vociferous atheist, but their personalities complement each other, their sex life could not be healthier, and their relationship is tender and honest and free, devoid of cutesy cliches.

“After Elise joins Didier’s group, their gigs grow from local bars and pubs to small auditoriums and, eventually, large concert halls. The songs, a combination of original compositions and country classics, are carefully integrated into the narrative, commenting on its themes and interior lives.

“When Elise gets unexpectedly pregnant, Didier isn’t happy at first. But once their daughter Maybelle starts to grow up, all his reservations melt away. The parents devote their lives to her. Then the girl is diagnosed with cancer: Doctors seem optimistic, but an endless series of chemo and radiation therapy treatments begin to take a toll.

“ The movie, which covers a span of nearly a decade, manages to pull off a small miracle, using joyous music and tenderness to tell a tragic story that moves you but doesn’t depress you.”
- Miami Herald


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