When Elise and Didier first met, it was love at first sight. They have their differences sure, but the passion between them was instant. The two get married and start a life together, touring public houses, chuch halls, and theaters where they perform their bluegrass ballets. When their young daughter gets diagnosed with cancer, major strain begins to negatively effect their loving relationship. The Broken Circle Breakdown is a film that goes out of its way to deliver a nonlinear narrative, jumping back and forth between the present day and the past, showing the contrast between Elise and Didier's currently strained relationship and their immense passion early into their relationship. It works quite well in the beginning but the filmmaker becomes a little too flamboyant, jumping all over the place in a way that gives the viewer whiplash while becoming quite tiresome. The juxtaposition of the passion and sorrow of romance is definitely the films strong suit but Broken Circle Breakdown somewhat falls off the rails when it goes into this science vs. religion debate that just feels out of place. It doesn't have much subtlety whatsoever, and while always an interesting discussion, the debate really takes away some of the film's poignancy centered around a married couple trying to cope with the death of their daughter. Sure, it's clear that Elise and Didier have very different views on this issue but the film brings it up too abruptly, instead of subtlety layering this particularly distinction throughout the narrative. This all adds together to make the deterioration rushed, even for a couple who loses a child to cancer. I'm not familiar with Felix Van Groeningen's but he makes quite a few unique and interesting choices in this film. From a large array of tracking shots to some surreal almost subversive types of imagery he certainly gives The Broken Circle breakdown a lot of vigor. Felix Van Groeningen's The Broken Circle Breakdown is the work of a talented filmmaker but while its emotionally poignancy cannot be denied, it lacks depth and subtlety specifically centered around the deterioration of Elise and Didier's relationship.
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