Broken English
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  • Updated modern classic
    Though the tale of looking for love is old, there's really nothing old-fashioned about this effort. Parker Posey is pitch perfect in the lead. She looks increasingly lost as the film churns through her various lovers until she meets a French man in NYC. Film-maker Zoe Cassavetes seems to go above and beyond to ensure that no cliches are allowed in as the tale unwinds from scene to scene. This leaves a great impression for her first effort. Watch it....more info
  • Parker Posey and Her Wonderful Acting Keep "Broken English" Afloat
    In "Broken English" a New York hotel concierge Nora Wilder (perfectly cast Parker Posey) meets her perfect man in the winsome Parisian Julien (Melvil Poupaud) visiting the city. However, bring insecure (partly because of her recent date with a self-obsessed actor Nick Gable played by Justin Theroux), she cannot say "Yes" when she knows she should.

    "Broken English is written and directed by Zoe R. Cassavetes, daughter of late John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands (who briefly appears as Nora's mother). Anyone who knows the style of John Cassavetes as director (responsible for "Shadows," "Faces" and other great films) will not be surprised that his daughter employed a low-key approach to her filmmaking. Events are depicted in a much more subdued way than most Hollywood romantic comedies and its subtlety is one of the merits of the film.

    Unfortunately, the materials themselves covered here are not particularly new. What is more disappointing is the characters and dialogues. Despite the excellent acting from Melvil Poupaud, the French traveler Julien is almost formulaic, too good a person to be true and so are Nora's mother and best friend Audrey (Drea de Matteo, who turns in a fine performance). Their characters are rather one-note, do not engage our interest or attention.

    The greatest part of the film is, of course, Parker Posey. You will be watching her brilliant acting as Nora, but to me it seems as if Parker Posey has taken over the role and banished Nora out of it. Sometimes a talented actor gives his or her character a life that a by-the-numbers script fails to give, and I think this is what is happening here. ...more info
  • A Modern Classic
    Zoey Cassavetes carries on the family tradition of her famous family, John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. This film was endearing and captivating as well as possessing just the right amount of neurotic anxiety that has commonly plagued New York characters. Parker Posey and Melvil Poupaud are captivating in this Modern Romantic Drama. When the film ended, I immediately wanted more. Perhaps Zoey would consider picking up where they left off. I highly recommend this film for 30 somethings still trying to figure it all out....more info
  • Perfect for its genre

    If all American romantic films had this level of authenticity, depth, and poignancy, the entire genre would have a better reputation. This movie manages to be both a light-hearted tale of a slightly flawed woman's search for love and a telling exposition of how relationship to self and relationship in romantic love are inextricably entertwined.

    *** warning: the following may be considered to contain spoilers ***

    What seems like fate is often just pattern, and we see how we can either cause the past to repeat, partly by our own expectations and reactions that call forth the same results, or how we can allow the unexpected to come out of us and invite new experiences into our lives. Even saying this I greatly over simplify this movie, which has more depth and meaning than I know how to fully convey in written form. That's the beauty of this movie. You really have to see the movie and even then some of how it affects you is not able to be explained, but it still has meaning to you. A truly great story of the search for love. I loved it right down to the ending, which left just as much possibility without promise as real life relationships do....more info
  • Seen better, seen worse
    My response to this film is lukewarm--I've seen better certainly but I've also seen worse. Do the lovers hook up for good?--Its one of those draw your own conclusion endings; nothing is clearly resolved which is probably why it did not resonate with me. I predict no Oscars for this one....more info
  • Plum Part for Parker Posey
    ***1/2

    Zoe Cassavetes` "Broken English" is a comedy/drama about an attractive young woman who, through her neuroticism and emotional insecurities, keeps sabotaging her own happiness. Even though she works as a manager and troubleshooter at a trendy Manhattan hotel, Nora Wilder doesn't lead what one would call a particularly fulfilling life. Unable to make a lasting connection with any of the men she meets, Nora (Parker Posey) finds herself drifting from one meaningless encounter to another, a situation that only exacerbates her already deep-rooted fears and vulnerabilities.

    In its structure, "Broken English" has a freeform looseness that keeps it from feeling over-plotted and contrived. And while there are times when the movie seems to be serving up pretty much the same scene over and over again, Posey's winsomeness and charm make us care about the character. In fact, without her, the movie would be considerably less compelling than it is. She manages to make a likable figure out of a character who might otherwise be seen as excessively whiny and self-pitying. And even though the mood of the film is generally light and playfully ironic, there is some genuine pain in the story as well, as Nora struggles with the very real issues of loneliness, panic attacks and depression.

    The actress receives impressive support from Drea de Matteo ("The Sopranos"), Peter Bogdanovich, Gena Rowlands, Justin Theroux and Melvil Poupaud, but the movie is Posey`s all the way....more info
  • A Good Man Is Hard To Find ...Or Is It A Good Woman...?
    Women nowadays don't feel the need to connect with men on a marital plain. And that is pretty much how Nora Wilder (Parker Posey, Fay Grim) feels her life turning out.

    Bad date after bad date, Nora leaps headlong upon every man she meets or is set up with (including one horrible blind date arranged by her mother, played by the estimable Gena Rowlands).

    From meeting movie stars to momma's boys, Nora is sure that she'll spend the rest of her life withering away, loveless and alone. Even her job at an upscale hotel seems headed toward nowheresville. But then she happens upon Julien (Melvil Poupaud), a visiting Frenchman with no reservations about relationships. Their dating rapidly escalates but each holds back their love for fear of losing themselves to the opposite sex.

    Funny moments occur as Julien's poor English enunciation turns mundane subjects into firecracker discussions. Nora's stress of dating someone she might actually grow to care about leads her to alcohol and her medicine cabinet, needing something to salve her anxiety about how much she's beginning to care for Julien.

    When Julien finally tells Nora that he has to go back to Paris, it is a hammer's blow to Nora's life. Julien begs her to come with him, but Nora has friends, family, and a job to worry about. So Julien leaves and gives her his phone number "just in case..."

    "Just in case" happens, as Nora flies with a friend to Paris and quickly learns that she's lost Julien's phone number. Unable to locate him ("His name is like John Smith in America"), she decides to simply enjoy herself while on vacation and scurries about Paris. But when it comes time to leave, she can't. She realizes that she's been staying in Paris only to see Julien again. She remains for a while longer but finally, regretfully, decides to return to the U.S. On her trip to the Paris airport, however, she discovers she's riding the train with Julien, and the two reconnect via happenstance and serendipity.

    Although smaltzy and awkward in many places, BROKEN ENGLISH has that quirky feel to it that makes many of its failings watchable. Parker Posey gives a powerful emotional performance as a woman in conflict with the times and her need to connect with someone meaningful. French actor Melvil Poupaud is handsome, a bit gruff, and just as strange as Parker Posey's character, which makes them play off each other exceptionally well.

    The pacing of the film is exceptionally slow, however, especially the first five minutes in which all we do is watch Parker Posey put on make-up and look in the mirror five-hundred times; something you should be prepared for. The pacing does pick up in places, but it can get tiresome watching the mundane for just as many minutes later on....more info
  • Broken Plot ...
    WARNING: Tale NO-DOZ before watching. These people are candidates for the Betty Ford Clinic. They can't seem to function without hammering down alcohol, pills or sucking on cigarettes. Whatever happened to coping?

    Poor, poor Nora has a string of loser and dysfunctional relationships. I can't really imagine why .... Go figure!! She meets a charming French dude who has to return to Paris. So she later follows him there but has nothing but a phone number written on a slip of paper, which she loses. En route back to the Paris Airport she - miraculously - runs into her old flame on the subway. Imagine that!!

    Going through Security and Customs - or a colonoscopy -- would be more pleasant than sitting through this slow-paced flick.
    ...more info
  • Nothing Broken About This 'English'
    Writer/director Zoe Cassavettes' "Broken English" is an engaging yet understated slice of life that zipped in and out of arthouse theaters in early summer. Its message ("you must love yourself before love finds you") is not only the least virginal territory a screenwriter could dare to tread, it is the essence of gooey, sentimental sap. What really makes it worthwhile is its gorgeous shots of Paris and its star Parker Posey, who is as radiant as her acting ability is boundless. Just when you think you've seen all she can do, she proves you wrong and comes off effortless all the while.

    Posey is Nora Wilder, a wine-guzzling train ready to jump the track. Sure, she may not have a man, but everything else seems in order - a steady job, a spiffy Manhattan apartment, healthy relationships with her friends and family. At her core, however, resides a deep-seated insecurity that in her mid-30s is coming to a head.

    "What is wrong with me?," she asks herself. "Why can't I meet someone nice?"

    She then concludes she must be the problem: "I think I must be doing something horribly wrong."

    Her mother Vivien, played by acting legend Gena Rowlands, tries to help but only makes her feel more self-conscious. "The good ones get snapped up so quickly at your age," she says in a half-hearted effort to console her daughter.

    Nora gets set up on dates that, despite herself, she agrees to go on. Whether she is the reason behind her lack of success is not as important as her lack of self-assuredness. When at last she finds something worth holding onto in a young Frenchman named Julien, played by Melvil Poupad, she finds herself at an unexpected crossroads, flakey as ever in the face of making tough decisions.

    She soon heads off to Paris with her friend Audrey, played to perfection by Drea de Matteo, in tow. Is Julien her only objective, however, or is there more to her journey than even Nora may know herself?

    Cassavettes' script at once appears to be a litmus test for romance in a modern, fast-paced world, and it is, but it still requires that the viewer suspend disbelief at several junctures in the plot. This chips away at the film's merit slightly, but it does not invalidate it. The acting is sufficient at worst and stellar at best across the board, and Nora's personal predicaments will be instantly relatable to anyone at all who is introverted, shy or just plain challenged when it comes to relationships.

    Like her brother Nick did when he directed the megahit 2004 adaptation of "The Notebook" by romance author Nicholas Sparks, Cassavettes casts her mother (Rowlands) in a small role. Unlike him, however, she does not maximize the emotional schmaltz to the level the script allows for. "Broken English" is by no means a happily-ever-after story of "Cinderella" proportions, and if it were it would insult the intellectual capabilities of its viewers.

    With a search for love as its driving force and a complex female protagonist, "Broken English" may seem to smatter of cookie cutter Lifetime fare. What makes the difference is that despite its faults the plot boasts a good head on its shoulders that not only portrays both sexes fairly and honestly but boasts one of our generation's most underappreciated film actresses doing what she does best from the first frame to the last. For that, it is a worthy 93 minutes.
    ...more info
  • dealing with modern life as a woman
    Pretty depressing in ways that a young woman feels that
    a French guy she can barely communicate with is
    better than the American men she knows.
    The good point is made about marriage being a contract
    and not really being about love.
    It is probably better for some people just to find a good listener
    than to find "true love"?...more info
  • Comes off a bit awkward, out of place, confused and, well, broken...
    I have a real problem with this film because I know what it was trying to achieve and for all means of discussion it should have been able to get there. The script itself is decently penned, while not truly revolutionary. It pales in comparison to its closest comparison, ala Sophia Coppola's brilliantly crafted `Lost in Translation', but it still should have been able to transcend its familiarity and deliver some goods. The overall direction is a bit shoddy, almost like its lost true grip on where the film was headed. There are some scenes that feel so out of place that the film itself comes off a bit lost. And speaking of out of place leads me to Parker Posey. I am a huge fan of Parker and she was the reason I grabbed this of the shelf at my local video store and decided to give it a try. As much as I love her she comes off way too awkward here. There are quite a few scenes where she seemed so detached from her character it was painful to watch. Maybe I just have to watch it a few more times to appreciate her performance but upon my initial glance I'm left cold.

    The film doesn't know if it wants to be dramatic of comical and in the sheer confusion it fails to deliver on either level. Like I said, I know what Cassavetes was trying to accomplish here, and that makes it ever more disappointing for me to watch her fail at it.

    So Parker Posey plays Nora, a thirty-something hotel worker who can't seem to find a good man. She has failed relationship after failed relationship and the one good man she could have had she set up with her best friend Audrey who is now unhappily married to him. Nora's mother would love to see her daughter finally settle down, but the truth of the matter may be that Nora is not ready for it, at least not until she finds herself. So yes, this is one of those `coming of age' type films for the middle age woman. Supposedly most women are supposed to be able to see themselves in Nora, but I can't really judge as I am not a woman myself. My wife thought this was ridiculous and abhorred the film, so I don't know if that says anything, but she's not middle aged and never struggled to keep a man so what does she know, right? Regardless, Posey to me drops the ball here. Scarlett Johansson did a much finer job with ultimately the same character in `Lost in Translation' (yes I know the age difference and setting is far from the same but the whole `finding the right person, finding yourself' type void is found within both characters).

    One shining light in the midst of the film is the performance of Drea de Metteo as Audrey. I've loved Drea since her Sopranos days and here she comes off so naturally that I wish they would have given her the role as Nora. I feel she would have handled it much better. I also enjoyed Justin Theroux as Nick, the actor jerk that ultimately starts the downward spiral that is Nora's journey to self appreciation. I liked his character and feel that a further fleshing out of his relationship with Nora could have proved more suitable for the film. The departure into foreign territory (literally) with the introduction of Frenchman Julian was just a bit unrealistic. His character was just so clich¨¦d to me. He had no purpose other than to help Nora find her purpose and Poupaud did absolutely nothing to make Julian even the slightest bit attractive (emotionally that is).

    So, this is no `Lost in Translation', and that's not to say that it had to be, but it could have been better than it is. Zoe Cassavetes certainly has the talent running in her blood, but unlike her friend and fellow golden child Sophia Coppola she was unable to bring her A-game to her debut film. `Broken English' goes to prove that personal projects (as in based off life experiences) don't always translate as beautifully as we'd like them to. Maybe next time she'll try something different....more info
  • A Little Zo? Cassavetes Triumph
    BROKEN ENGLISH has so many of the elements of films that are becoming difficult to find these days - superb intelligent script, a story that is frankly what it is instead of an overdone parody of itself, a director who knows how to pace a storyline to keep it compelling, and a cast of first class actors who have the gift of diving right to the core of characters we all meet every day and making us care about them. Writer/director Zo? Cassavetes may be young in her trade, but she here gives evidence that she clearly knows her way around creating fine movies!

    Nora Wilder (a mesmerizingly fine Parker Posey) has looks, a good job as a client relations director of a smart New York hotel, but she is now in her thirties and in comparison to her friends she is a social wasteland. She simply cannot find a satisfying relationship in this time of fast one night stands. Her mother (Gena Rowlands) is supportive of her plight and her best friend Audrey (Drea De Mateo, proving that she indeed is a fine actress) who is supposedly in a 'good marriage' with Mark (Tom Guinee) understands her needs and is willing to help, but all Nora can end up with are losers like mouthy actor Nick Gable (Justin Theroux) and morning after hangovers - until she encounters Frenchman Julien (Melvil Poupaud). Julien sees and appreciates Nora for who she is and while Nora seems on the brink of having found the perfect guy, her past history of failed romances prevents her from staying in the moment. But when Julien must return to Paris (seemingly the door of exit for yet another mismatch), Nora eventually gathers her courage and accompanied by Audrey sets off to Paris in hopes of joining the effervescent Julien. In Paris the two women search but cannot find Julien, but what Nora finds is herself - and that is rewarded by a climax that brings the film to a satisfying close.

    Though Parker Posey has given us some excellent independent film roles in the past, nothing can match the magic she brings to this role. In fact the entire cast is so fine and so well motivated and directed by Cassavetes that every detail of the film is polished and shines like a the little triumph the film is. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, August 07
    ...more info
  • A Masterful Posey Keeps Cassavetes' Low-Budget Debut Film Afloat
    Like father, like daughter. As the daughter of maverick indie filmmaker and actor John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands, first-time director/screenwriter Zoe Cassavetes has a pedigree that inevitably comes with exalted expectations. Interestingly, you can see traces of her father's recognizably low-budget, improvisational-feeling style in this 2007 character study masquerading as a romantic comedy. She's fortunate to have recruited the wonderful Parker Posey to portray Nora Wilder, a confident guest-relations manager at a luxury boutique hotel who is also a neurotic thirty-something concurrently longing for and repelled by the thought of a long-term commitment with a man. What makes this film a bit meatier than an episode of Sex and the City is in the idiosyncratic ways Posey informs her multi-layered performance as she attempts to show a flailing dignity in the face of every possible humiliation she could suffer as a single woman within her married social circle.

    The rest of the film does not quite measure up to Posey, as Cassavetes has her going through the paces of dating men particularly bad for her until by happenstance at a co-worker's cocktail party, Nora meets Julien, an affectionate Frenchman who appears quite smitten with her. They naturally embark on a weekend fling that neither wants to end. The rest of the movie plays out in a predictable pattern but with some odd quirks along the way. The result is not a misfire. However, there seems to be a desperate reliance on Posey to bring it all home, which she does handily. Still, there is a charming performance by the charismatic Melvil Poupad as Julien, and he makes Nora's attraction understandable even if the script does not allow him to counterbalance the film.

    As married best friend Audrey, Drea de Matteo plays a frustrating character drawn strictly by the numbers, while Justin Theroux manages to exude smarmy conceit as the self-absorbed actor who manipulates Nora. Cassavetes conveniently has her mother play Nora's meddlesome, well-heeled mother with a not-quite-present Peter Bogdanovich as her second husband. The film drags somewhat in the last third, and the ending is both pat and familiar given all that has come before. Still, it's hard to resist Posey excelling in such a fully dimensional role. There are quite a few extras on the 2007 DVD - a fifteen-minute making-of featurette, a thirty-minute episode of HDNet featuring extensive interviews with Cassavetes and Rowlands, and about sixteen minutes of deleted scenes, two of which are comically awkward encounters at the opening cocktail party with an urbane married older man (Griffin Dunne) and a friendly lesbian (Nadia Dajani)....more info
  • Journey into Myself
    This is one of those movies that you watch solely for the great performance alone. Zoe's film hovers between being a movie about self-discovery (which is far more interesting!) and being a trite little romantic comedy (boring!, who cares!).
    Parker Posey however is a wonder to behold, she makes sitting at home alone seem somehow heroic and yet not overstated. It was a joy for me to watch her performance as Nora because there are moments when you see her world unravel and she does the brave thing of trying to be herself. When she finally gives in at the end and goes after what she knows she really needs it's somewhat bittersweet because I wanted her to be herself on her own terms and not depend on a guy (the guy is average by the way!).
    If you love Parker Posey, I know I do, then see this film just don't expect any wonders from Zoe.
    ...more info
  • I just want to be loved
    Have you ever known that you would just love a movie without having seen it or heard anything about it? I was at Best Buy and I just saw the cover and recognized Parker Posey and bought it without thinking, a little impulsive. Or maybe I just always expect great things from Parker. From the beginning lyrics and opening scene I knew I was in for a treat.

    Parker plays Nora Wilder, an average twentysomething female just kind of living her life, but not loving life. In the opening scene we see her get ready for a dinner party and she is walking around anxiously. Sipping red wine and staring at herself in the mirror we can tell that she is a little broken. She is beautiful but she doesn't know it. She is unsure of herself and is afraid.

    All of her friends seem happy and Nora just kind of tip toes through life. She dates but nothing ever goes her way, though no fault of her own. She just wants to be truly loved, but she has no love for herself. Nora reminds me of myself and I am sure every woman has a little Nora in her.

    But one night Nora bumps into a man that takes a notice to her and through all her fighting and insecurities she submits and lets herself get swept away. But she is so desperate for someone to love her that she has put a wall up because she is ultimately afraid of getting hurt and this has created somewhat of an anxiety disorder. There is a great scene that shows just how vulnerable she is. She is having dinner with a man and thinks that he is mad at her so she excuses herself to the bathroom and starts to yell at herself for making a mistake.She ultimately ruins the evening because she has to run home to take medication for her anxiety.

    The plot thickens when she falls in love with the mystery guy but he is only in town for a few days and he is leaving for Paris soon. Will she stay or will she go? She needs to decide what her life has become and what makes her happy.

    This is a long movie- and I enjoyed every second of it. This is a movie about an insecure woman who is coming to grips with her insecurities and her emotions and decides to take charge. But this isn't an overnight solution- it takes time and heart. Broken English really touches at reality and our real relationships with ourselves. We don't always hold our head up high and we often try to go through life unnoticed. But in the end the message is clear- to be loved we must learn to love ourselves....more info