Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 September 2007

Broken English

Quick review of the new Zoe Cassavetes movie. I don't know about you, but when I saw the trailer for Broken English, I thought it looked really funny and cute. The movie isn't really cute, though. It's actually rather frustrating and painful.
The main point to make, I think, is that the main character Nora (Parker Posey) is a frustrated thirty-something with very little direction who spends almost the entirety of the film being absolutely miserable. Posey is funny when at all possible, and the film is quirky and (I think) tries to be funny on occasion. There is, for instance, a silly sequence early on with Justin Theroux as a womanizing, ridiculous movie star who clutches a pillow and talks about the craft of acting. But instead of playing up how laughable the situation is, Cassavetes directs the sequence very earnestly and points up how pathetic poor Nora is. It's all rather depressing, in fact.
The lighter stuff starts when Nora's French love interest Julien comes on the scene. He's played by Melvil Poupaud, who I loved in François Ozon's Time to Leave. Still, though Broken English lightens up, it never really gets off the ground. Julien seems to really like Nora, though it is a complete mystery why. She is a total mess and continues to be for the rest of the movie.
I suppose this is a film about growing up, about taking control of your life and making changes that give your life meaning. But Broken English just doesn't work. It's far too depressing to be a comedy, and too quirky to be really taken seriously as a story of an anxiety-ridden thirtysomething. Parker Posey continues to demonstrate her considerable talents, but skip this flick.