- Eddie Harrison
- 19 March 2013
Wildly melodramatic and stereotypical issue-based drama, starring Cillian Murphy and Tim Roth
Single parent families, sexually aware teenagers, people with mental health issues; they’re all just short-fused firecrackers ready to explode in director Rufus Norris’s frustratingly issue-based drama. Funded by the BBC and the British Film Council, and adapted from a novel by Daniel Clay, Broken leaves no stereotype unturned as it attempts to delve behind the twitching curtains of the most tempestuous cul-de-sac since the demise of Channel Four’s Brookside.
Mark O’Rowe’s script features story elements familiar from Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird; Skunk (Eloise Laurence) is the socially curious daughter of a taciturn lawyer Archie (Tim Roth), and develops a friendship with a gentle neighbor Rick (Robert Emms) who has mental health issues. The intolerance shown towards Rick by next-door’s Bob (Rory Kinnear) and his intolerant brood of girls deepens Skunk’s empathy, while also making Rick a social pariah, but soon her own world is rocked when a school bullying incident leads to a false accusation of Skunk’s teacher Mike (Cillian Murphy), which Archie uses his legal training to solve.
If Broken sounds wildly melodramatic, that’s because it is; somehow every household in Skunk’s street faces life-threatening drama simultaneously, meaning that any intended social relevance gives way to absurdity. Norris has been given an A-list cast to play with, but neither Roth nor Murphy have much to go on despite their heavyweight presence, leaving newcomer Laurence to deliver a central performance better than the material deserves.
Featuring a ridiculous music score that suggests a merry-go-round out of control, Broken is a farcically overwrought drama that probably means well, but is ham-fisted in its portrayal of real-life issues; the final suggestion that people on medication are just a mood-swing from being a danger to the community consigns Norris’s dull-looking film to the lowest echelons of stigmatizing thought.