Director: Rufus Norris
Screenwriter: Mark O’Rowe based on the eponymous novel by Daniel Cray
Runtime: 91 mins.
Australian release date: 16 May 2013
Rufus Norris’s first feature Broken, is an adaptation of Daniel Cray’s novel of the same name. The drama is set in a cul-de-sac in suburban North London, where the neighbours are as fractured as the society they live in; for this is Britain, where, according to George Orwell, “a generation of the unteachable is hanging upon us like a necklace of corpses.” How well this is exemplified in this gritty, worthy independent film.
In her acting debut, Eloise Laurence plays Skunk, an 11-year-old girl whose simple friend, Rick (Robert Emms) is accused of getting their neighbour’s feral daughter Sunrise (Martha Bryant), pregnant. All hell breaks loose when the girl’s father Bob (Rory Kinnear) goes ‘postal’ and gives the young lad a beating which puts him in hospital and eventually into psychiatric care. Skunk’s lawyer father, Archie (Tim Roth), still mourning the death of his wife, tries to keep a lid on the unravelling drama as the situation gets out of control. In the meantime, Skunk’s adult friend Mike Kiernan (Cillian Murphy), becomes her teacher and is caught up in the family drama in more ways than one, as he is in a relationship with Skunk’s au-pair, Kasia (Zana Marjanovic).
Broken is a complex tale where everyone is carrying a pile of baggage and no-one is spared. The atmosphere is as volatile as the English economy and it takes reason and fortitude for the characters to sort out their lives and try to co-exist. In many ways, the title is a metaphor for the state of not only British society, but Western society as a whole. This at times over-blown drama is brilliantly executed by all the actors, particularly Laurence, who is a revelation, and Roth, who is perfect as the downcast parent. If you are looking for a story that encompasses a range of genuine human emotions, then this is worth the experience. Broken takes you over to the dark side of life, but a glimmer of hope remains.