Comments on watching and making films.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DVD - Broken English

Any film made by a Cassavetes is worth my time. Nick, Xan, and Zoe all grew up amongst filmmaking, with their mother, Gena Rowlands, being one of Americas best actresses, and their dad, John Cassavetes, being one of the best independent film writer/directors ever. Xan's only film, so far, is the incredibly charming and interesting Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, and Nick has been responsible for films like John Q, The Notebook, and Alpha Dog. Zoe had always been the hold out, having worked with people like Sofia Coppola on her films, and making an occasional short, but never anything of her own. Last year, though, she joined the ranks of her brother and sister with the "romantic comedy" Broken English.

If you can't tell by the fact that romantic comedy is in quotations, I use that term very loosely, since it is nothing like the Hollywood definition of Romantic Comedy. The film stars Parker Posey as Nora Wilder, a thirty something New Yorker who is yet to find true love. Her best friend, Audrey, along with her mother Vivien (played by Zoe's mother, Gena Rowlands), are trying to hook Nora up, so that she can find the last thing that is missing from her life. After a series of misfires, though, she ends up at a co-workers lame party, where, as she's leaving, she meets a suave frenchman, Julien, who cranks the charm up to 11. Nora is very passive aggressive towards Julien because she doesn't like the idea of getting involved with another man who is going to break her heart. She ends up making a fool out of herself, on numerous occasions, but Julien doesn't give up. She eventually succumbs to his charms, only to find out that he has to leave to go back to Paris the next day. He implores her to go with him, but she refuses, believing it will end in disaster. As time goes by, though, Nora becomes convinced she needs to go to Paris and reconnect with Julien, so she grabs her friend Audrey, and the adventure begins.

I didn't think this was supposed to be a comedy, and when I was watching the supplemental features, I was REALLY surprised to find out that that is what Zoe considers it. It comes off as more of a drama to me, with humorous moments in between. The directing is solid, though not anything that blew my socks off. The acting felt about the same. New York and Paris were both beautiful, and I wish we would have gotten to see wider shots of both cities.

Broken English was funded through HDNet films, and was, therefore, shot on HD (the Thompson Viper, not that anyone cares). This was probably the only thing that really bothered me, technically, about the film. It just... didn't look that good. Everything had this flatness and plainness about it.

All in all, a solid debut for Zoe Cassavetes, and I'm looking forward to the possibility of another film.

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