This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

19Jul/13

BROKEN

BROKEN

Father (Tim Roth) and daughter (Eloise Laurence) think of happier times in BROKEN

BROKEN (Rufus Norris, 2012)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St.
Opens Friday, July 19
212-255-2243
www.quadcinema.com
www.wildbunch.biz

Theater director Rufus Norris makes quite a statement with his feature debut, Broken. Named Best British Independent Film at the 2012 British Independent Film Awards, Broken was adapted from Daniel Clay’s 2008 novel, itself directly inspired by Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. On a small cul-de-sac in North London, eleven-year-old Skunk (newcomer Eloise Laurence) is horrified as she watches one of her neighbors, the recently widowed Mr. Oswald (Rory Kinnear), beat her friend, Rick (Robert Emms), to a bloody pulp. It turns out that one of Oswald’s troublesome daughters falsely accused Rick, who is developmentally disabled, of rape, setting in motion a series of events that turn Skunk’s world inside out. Skunk’s mother ran off with another man several years earlier, so she lives with her father, Archie, who is a mild-mannered, caring lawyer, her older brother, Jed (Bill Milner), and their au pair, Kasia (Zana Marjanović), who is in a relationship with Mike (Cillian Murphy), one of Skunk’s teachers. Soon Skunk and tough kid Dillon (George Sargeant) are hanging out at a car dump and considering their first kiss, but things get more complicated when Mike saves Skunk from a beating by Sunrise Oswald (Martha Bryant), who then tells her father that the teacher raped her. With things spinning out of control, Skunk desperately tries to find a balance in her life as she approaches adolescence, perhaps a little too quickly. Written by Irish screenwriter and playwright Mark O’Rowe (Terminus, Boy A), Broken is an involving, sensitively told drama about growing up, the transition from childhood to adulthood, and family responsibility, featuring strong performances and complex, believable situations. In her film debut, Laurence is captivating, even providing the vocals to Damon Albarn/Electric Wave Bureau’s beautiful “Colours” over the closing credits. The intentional parallels to To Kill a Mockingbird, both in plot and the characters’ names — Skunk/Scout, Jed/Jem, Archie/Attacus — do not get in the way, instead offering a modern-day perspective on parenting, personal responsibility, and community.

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