Special/Signature Issues » Rental Unit

"Broken English"



It must be nice to be a Cassavetes. Want to make a movie? Give Mom (Gena Rowlands) a bit part. Soon you've got Peter Bogdanovich and Parker Posey onboard, too. No swipes intended at "Broken English," though, an enjoyable romantic comedy by Zoe Cassavetes and starring Posey. The writer-director's lucky lineage happens to be our modest gain, though one might wonder if the movie would have been made without it. "Broken English" isn't lighting any indie fires the way Dad (John) did back in his maverick heyday, but it's a serviceable bit of fun with an attractive cast and a mind for real characters responding to situations that mostly ring true.

Posey stars as Nora, a female well into her 30s full of neurotic hang-ups and still dying to meet Mr. Right. Nora has luck with the fellas, but we can tell by her overall weariness and a brief fling with a sniveling actor that her loves tend to be under the covers one minute and out the door the next. When Nora meets a dapper, charming young Frenchman, she's completely suspicious of his charms, and, already sympathetic to her plight, so are we.

Though the premise is light, "Broken English" insists on populating the story with strong characters. Its other good quality is that it doesn't leave these people stuck in a one-dimensional story. Unlike her brother Nick, Zoe doesn't seem interested in making a big splash, but she is able to surprise. "Broken" solves its initial puzzles, only to delve into an unexpected third act that reinvigorates the film without departing from what's transpired. The story becomes richer and so do the people in it, even if the title isn't ever totally clear. It doesn't hurt that this part takes us over to Europe. You don't get anything close to revolutionary filmmaking, but you do get New York and Paris for the price of one DVD rental. (PG-13)

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