Broken is the debut feature from award-winning theatre director Rufus Norris, who has successfully helmed the West End revival of Cabaret and most recently London Road at the National Theatre. An adaptation of a Daniel Clay novel, Broken focuses on three families living in a British cul-de-sac, whose lives become even more intertwined due to a number of unfortunate incidents involving various members of each family.
The film which begins in a startling manner, sets the tone for Broken and sort of reminds me of an episode of Casualty. Everything seems to be going so well and nice, but you know some major drama is lurking around the corner, and that's exactly what transpires. Broken begins with a young girl called Skunk (Eloise Laurence) witnessing a violent attack on her nice but dim neighbour Rick (Robert Emms). The attack is carried out by the resident nasty neighbour Mr Oswald (Rory Kinnear), and this incident sets of a tragic chain of events which are explored throughout the film.
There is a mixed bag of actors, varying from screen legend Tim Roth who delivers a solid performance as Skunk's dad Archie, a hardworking attorney bringing up his family with the help of his nanny Kasia (Zana Marjanovic). Established thespian Cillian Murphy also pops up in the form of Skunk's teacher and on/off boyfriend of Kasia. There is also the welcomed debut of newcomer Eloise Laurence who delivers a fantastic performance as the plucky adolescent Skunk. Laurence delivers a witty, charming performance as the young adolescent coming of age. The performances from this assemble cast are very realistic and well thought out, with my only criticism being of Rory Kinnear's over-acting as the leader of the most hated family in the neighbourhood, which bordered on cringe worthy at times.
Make no mistake Broken isn't a feel good movie by any stretch of the imagination, it's a downbeat, realistic drama focusing on everyday social issues. Norris delivers a fine effort for his directorial debut and it's a film that is beautifully shot, and credit to Rob Hardy for the cinematography. However at times the film felt a bit too cluttered and it almost seemed as Norris was trying to squeeze in just a bit too much and particularly towards the end of the film, the melodrama started to overshadow the gritty realism that Norris had worked so hard to establish throughout the earlier parts of the film.
Broken isn't a masterpiece, doesn't attempt to answer any burning questions and its overall message certainly won't leave you with any warm and fuzzy feelings inside, it's still a very worthwhile watch. The film is a harsh, genuine look at the world in which we live in today, and the complicated, even fragmented lives that many people are living, seen through the eyes of young girl finding her feet in the world