Belgium’s Broken Circle Breakdown is a strong contender for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film next month, but not strong enough.
Why it is serious competition: From director Felix Van Groeningen, it’s an already heavily awarded film, having won prizes at film festivals all around the world. Strong performances from genuine and natural actors Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh and a beautiful soundtrack full of well performed Bluegrass music expertly draw us in to the tragic story of a couple whose child has cancer.
This is one, big, wet TEARJERKER that jumps back and forth on the sad timeline of Dedier and Elise’s love story covering everything from the day that they meet, the addition of a daughter, her cancer diagnosis, and the couple’s struggle to recover from the bad times. The music that they share and they play together, Flemish musicians with a passion for America and Bluegrass seems almost enough to give them the strength that they need.
Why it won’t beat La Grande Bellezza: Though Broken Circle Breakdown is clearly a formidable opponent, it’s a little too predictable in the way that it tries to manipulate us with the big issues that it throws in, a little too haphazardly at the end. Minus the railing against religion, George Bush, and people who want to hold back stem cell research, it could have really been a perfect little film.
La Grande Bellezza is more original and more memorable; if Broken Circle wins no one will remember that it has in 2 years time.