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article imageReview: 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' will lift you up and break you down Special

By Kristal Cooper     Nov 8, 2013 in Entertainment
There aren't many films being released these days that will cause an audience to genuinely run the gamut from extreme joy to extreme heartbreak, sometimes within the same scene.
Or, more accurately, most films can't achieve this feat without resorting to contrived melodrama.
The Broken Circle Breakdown is just the type of gem that it would be easy to overlook if it weren't for the fact that its home country seems to recognize what a special film it is, having submitted it as Belgium's entry into the Best Foreign Film category for the 2014 Academy Awards. If it makes the cut and gets the final nomination, it could well be on the road to much deserved accolades come awards season, bringing it to the attention of a much larger North American audience than it will otherwise reach.
This haunting tale of love, loss and bluegrass music, presents a fragmented view (think Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine and its dismantled chronology) of the passionate relationship between Didier (Johan Heldenbergh), a hirsute musician obsessed with American culture, and Elise (Veerle Baetens) a rebellious tattoo artist who's drawn to Didier's simple country life and his devotion to his bluegrass ensemble's arcane style of music that ruminates on both the beautiful and harsh realities of life.
As it turns out, Elise is a perfect addition to the band, her voice adding harmony and spice both to the performances and to Didier's existence. As their story unfolds (scored, of course, by a stunningly gorgeous bluegrass soundtrack), we see them change from a passionate young couple into a pair made weary from battling a tragedy that causes their previously-in-sync world views to diverge.
This is a film that artfully breaks your heart, makes it soar and then stomps on it yet again but somehow, that juxtaposition of hardship and happiness never feels hackneyed or gets to be too much to take. This is a film that's not afraid to delve deeply into its knotty emotional undercurrents and in doing so, it uncovers some of the plain truths about mortality and transcending tragedy both as an individual and as part of a family unit. It's feel-bad cinema that still manages to be transformative in a way that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
In other words, seek this film out at all costs. You won't be disappointed. Just be sure to have a box of tissues close at hand.
The Broken Circle Breakdown opens in Toronto on November 8, 2013. Check the listings at TIFF Bell Lightbox for more information.
More about the broken circle breakdown, Felix Van Groeningen, Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh, Belgium
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