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The Broken Circle Breakdown

Canadian Premiere
WINNER: Best European Film, Label Europe Cinemas, Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER: Panorama Audience Award, Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER: Politiken’s Audience Award, CPH:PIX
WINNER: Best Actress, Tribeca Film Festival
WINNER: Best Screenplay, Narrative Feature, Tribeca Film Festival

“ A sure-fire, tear-jerking, audience pleaser... engaging and moving” - Mark Adams, SCREEN DAILY

Any parent would tell you that the worst thing that could happen to them would be to have their child afflicted with a life-threatening illness. And even more devastating, dying from it. It’s also the direst that can happen to a couple, as each deals with its grief in a different way, often drifting apart in their pain. When we meet Elise and Didier, they’ve just learned that their daughter Maybelle has leukemia. We then go back to the moment they fell in love. The story subsequently criss-crosses through their highs, the lightning immediacy of their love, the charming simplicity of their life in the Flemish countryside, the joyful harmony of their music band; and through their lows, welcoming an unexpected baby, dealing with the heartache of having a part of you vanishing with the child and losing the connection with your soulmate.

Central to the film are the bluegrass melodies, composed of folk songs and a score by Bjorn Eriksson, which will charm even those who dislike the genre, some songs staying with you long after the film has ended. Felix Van Groeningen, following the achievement of THE MISFORTUNATES (which was both Belgium’s biggest box-office hit of 2009 and a worldwide critical success) follows up with a fourth film that firmly establishes him as a masterful director. He returns with another story that visits a great range of emotions and brings his particular agility with nonlinear narrative, always unfolding in contradictory tones and elliptical editing, to another level. While the offering of Elise and Didier’s moments of their life together may seem disorganised at first, the puzzle is gradually assembled, making us understand, and acutely feel, the anguish of their emotional unravelling. Fair warning: You WILL cry.

— Stephanie Trepanier