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Broken English

Ever felt like a happy love life is passing you right by? Then Broken English is the perfect film for you, a romantic drama that's about as far from a "chick flick" as a romance can get, filled with terrific performances and extremely believable situations.


Nora Wilder (Parker Posey) is depressed. She's a lonely, single thirty-something New Yorker whose job as the VIP facilitator of a chic boutique hotel is boring her to tears. Her mother (Gena Rowlands) is no help, nor is her best friend Audrey (Drea de Matteo), who is actually having problems of her own in her seemingly perfect marriage to Mark (Tim Guinee). Nora is drinking too much, dating cute but crappy men, and still mourning the death of her father, despite years having past since that sad event. When she meets Julian (Melvil Poupaud), a gorgeous Frenchman, her life changes, in a series of unexpected ways.


With her role in Broken English, Parker Posey reminds us of what a talented actress she is. Her portrayal of Nora is dead-on, right down to the sadness in her eyes and the slump in her shoulders. You can just feel her need for love and emotional connection; it leaps off the screen right at you. Yet Posey is (as always) so likeable her innate personality shines through the sadness, a fact that works perfectly with the character she plays. With her best-friend role, Drea de Matteo shifts far away from her now iconic portrayal of Adriana in The Sopranos, revealing a very different sort of person, a privileged woman doubting her life choices—and she does it in a completely believable way. But it is Melvil Poupaud who is the big surprise here. The French actor has been in numerous films in his native country since he began his career at age 11, yet is still a face unfamiliar to American audiences. And what a face it is! The strikingly handsome 34-year-old is a revelation, bringing a natural charm and ease to his performance that is sure to make every woman who sees the film dream about him that night.


Director Zoe Cassavetes has movies in her blood. The daughter of legendary actor-director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands and the sister of Nick, who directed The Notebook and Alpha Dog, she has clearly felt the influence of her famous family. Broken English, her first full-length feature film (which she also wrote), follows in the tradition of her late father's best work. He, too, wrote and directed personal films (Faces, Husbands, A Woman Under the Influence) which explored the intense human need for love, without sentimentality or sappiness. With Broken English, Zoe accomplishes the same difficult feat, making her protagonist a very real woman whose life journey is at times sad yet ultimately uplifting--and always fascinating. In fact, she has fashioned an excellent film which speaks to the human condition of countless single women in their 30s and beyond. Anyone who is one of those women should make sure to see this movie, as should any man who would like to understand them just a little bit more.

Bottom Line rated this film 3 1/2 stars.