Film review: Broken

At the end of a cul-de-sac in a London suburb, there are three homes, all of them broken. Teenagers live in all of them, and although nobody really talks to each other, the actions of the one always affect the inhabitants of the next. People get away with murder – or at least very severe violence – because of fear and a measure of empathy with others’ dire circumstances, but all of this leads to some horrifying scenes.

Broken was awarded the Grand Prix earlier this year at Prague’s major film festival, Febiofest, and is not at all dissimilar to the festival’s 2012 winner, the thoroughly depressing The Good Son (Hyvä poika) from Finnish director Zaida Bergroth. We feel the desperation of good people who are victims of heartless individuals who, for whatever reason, are delighting in the misfortune they are causing others. And yet, because it is a film, we cannot do anything about their suffering except close our eyes, shift uncomfortably in our seats, or scream at the screen.

The film, however, is not heartless, and often shows us the terrible consequences of violence first, before flashing back to the incident, thereby gently preparing us for what is to come. Such scenes are still tough to watch sometimes, but director Rufus Norris does not want to drown us in despair: On the contrary, these scenes are often quite different from one another, and the characters do undergo minor changes.

For the full review, visit The Prague Post.

(Still of Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy in Broken. © 2013 – StudioCanal)