4 out of 10
Release Date: 30th January 2009
Director: Sean Ellis (Anthropoid / Metro Manila / Cashback)
Cast: Lena Headey, Melvil Poupaud, Ulrich Thomsen, Asier Newman, Michelle Duncan and Richard Jenkins
Writer: Sean Ellis
Trailer: THE BROKEN
Sean Ellis has just directed my favourite film of 2013 – Metro Manila – an armoured car heist thriller movie set in the Philippines. This fact prompted me to go back and have a look at his earlier film The Broken. Trying a mixture of styles, Ellis has worn his influences on his sleeve. Shades of David Lynch, Nicholas Winding-Refn and Atom Egoyan ticks are all present from the rumbling score, the prowling cameras and the sleek, clear and clean locales. It makes for an unnreving experience but atmosphere alone cannot be relied upon to make a good film.
On the day Gina (LENA HEADEY – DREDD) a radiologist comes across an x-ray of a patient with dextrocardia (a heart on the right hand side) she is in severe car accident. Unable to remember much before the crash she begins to piece together the lead up. Was that woman on the street corner at the corner of her vision before the crash her doppelgänger (double)? Why doesn’t she recognise her boyfriend (MELVIL POUPAUD – 44 INCH CHEST) anymore? And what’s with all the broken mirrors?
Using the German doppelgänger myth as the jump off point, The Broken remains too vague to chill, too elusive to grip, and ultimately it winds up being both frustrating and boring. There are some great ideas at play and some nicely underplayed performances, but we can’t be sure what’s happening as each theory is dismissed by a sticking point. Is the Gina we’re following the doppelgänger? Is the world being taken over by our doppelgängers? What do they want? How long has it been going on? What happened to the original people? Some of these questions are part answered and others are ignored completely.
The Broken isn’t a bad film, it’s just a botched attempt at something that could have been original and good. Whereas we are left with a film that is quite unique but lost. It’s difficult to recommend a movie such as this that sets up a bold premise then decides to confuse the audience with scenes that replay from different points of view and speeds, yet offers no answers. This just comes across as pretentious in this case and that’s a shame as more thought and a bolder approach to telling a fuller more satisfying story could have won this a wider audience and a chance of being a cult classic. In the end though, The Broken ends up being yet another UK ‘nearly.’
4 out of 10 – Doppelgangers are rarely chosen to be the subject of thrillers. This isn’t the movie to do them justice unfortunately. Sean Ellis‘ new film Metro Manila is perfect in every way, so the man has learnt how to tell a story since.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Lena Headey: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, 300 – part 2, The Pact, Game Of Thrones (TV), Dredd, The Brothers Grimm, Imagine Me & You, St. Trinians, 300, The Cave, Ripley’s Game, The Parole Officer, Gossip, Onegin, If Only, Mrs Dalloway, Face, Waterland, The Grotesque, The Jungle Book (1994), Century, The Remains Of The Day
- Melvil Poupaud: 44 Inch Chest
- Ulrich Thomsen: Centurion, The Thing (2011), Season Of The Witch, The International, Duplicity, Hitman, Brothers (Denmark), Festen
- Asier Newman: Walking With The Enemy
- Richard Jenkins: Turbo (voice), White House Down, ACOD, Jack Reacher, Killing Them Softly, The Cabin In The Woods, Liberal Arts, The Rum Diary, Friends With Benefits, Hall Pass, Eat Pray Love, Dear John, Burn After Reading, Step Brothers, The Visitor, The Kingdom, Rumour Has It, Fun With Dick and Jane, North Country, Six Feet Under (TV), Shall We Dance?, I Heart Huckabees, Intolerable Cruelty, The Core, Changing Lanes, The Man Who Wasn’t There, One Night At McCools, Say It Isn’t So, Me Myself and Irene, Random Hearts, Snow Falling On Cedars, The Mod Squad, There’s Something About Mary, The Imposters, Absolute Power, Flirting With Disaster, Eddie (1996), How To Make An American Quilt, The Indian In The Cupboard, Trapped In Paradise, It Could Happen To You, Wolf, And The Band Played On, Undercover Blues, Sea Of Love, Blue Steel, The Witches Of Eastwick, Hannah and Her Sisters, Silverado