“Broken,” is devastating, it shakes you and drains you but somehow leaves you a sliver of hope next to your twenty crumpled kleenex.
Based on the novel by Daniel Clay, the story follows Skunk (Eloise Laurence), an eleven year-old girl in a North London neighborhood whose life changes after she witnesses a violent attack on her mentally ill neighbor, Ricki (Robert Emms) and sets off a chain of events that influences her life and those that surround her.
Theater director Rufus Norris takes his first crack at film with “Broken,” and handles the tone of violent suburban dysfunction with considerable deft. He never opts for gore as a sensation or melodramatics over significance. While at times, the narrative does break apart, jumbling around in a manner that isn’t quite as valuable as it could be, it still serves the narrative and remains a poignant look at love in all its forms. It’s heartbreaking but never distrustful or negative, and Norris makes it a point to let that quality shine through his protagonist, Skunk.
The ensemble cast carries the film very well with a strong performance by newcomer Eloise Laurence as Skunk, who carries the weight of her role like an experienced pro, pulling the cast together with noteworthy ease. Beside her, Robert Emms also delivered a stand-out performance as Skunk’s mentally ill neighbor, Ricki and I can only hope this means we’ll be seeing more of him in the future. The cast was one of the main reasons this film worked so well. They didn’t fall to melodramatics even as the situation was melodramatic. They all maintained the heartbeat and each performance was something to sing about.
Quite frankly, “Broken” beat the shit out of me, but it didn’t leave me for dead, it just left me speechless.