DVD Review: Broken English

Over the past fifteen years Parker Posey has become one of the main queens of the indie screen. She has appeared in a few Hollywood blockbusters (“Superman Returns”, “Blade: Trinity”) but she usually is more recognized for her great indie work in the Christopher Guest films and in other small movies like “The Daytrippers” and “Party Girl.” She returned her indie roots this year with Zoe Cassavetes’ much anticipated Sundance hit “Broken English.”

Unfortunately, “Broken English” is a complete letdown. The entire film plays like a boring, meaningless episode of “Sex in the City.” Posey plays Nora Wilder, a sexy New York single who has a successful job at a hotel, but just finds she wants more out of life. She dates many guys from an actor to a blind date but doesn’t find the man of her dreams until she meet mysterious Frenchman Julian at a party. But Nora’s insecurities keep getting in her way of getting what she wants, so she loses Julian and must go to France to track him down.

The film does not play out like real life. It’s absolutely impossible to connect to Posey’s character or any of the other characters for that matter. Every scene gives a little hope towards plot/character development, and the whole time one can’t help but ask what the point of this movie is. It is truly a pointless movie.

We’re supposed to understand the social troubles of Nora, and it’s very hard when every thing her character does is erratic. Nothing about her character connects from one scene to another and nothing about the film makes any sense. Another downside to Nora is her lack of likeability. She has friends which makes no sense because she is always in a bad mood, and she is constantly lying to everyone for no reason.

Parker Posey does perform as well as she possibly could with such a weak script. There are many scenes in which she appears to be drunk, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It’s possible that Posey wanted her character to seem afraid, but instead it just comes off as awkward and annoying. She’s up for an Independent Spirit Award, which is very confusing because she really has done better in her previous films.

It’s easy to feel bad for the director. Zoe Cassavetes comes from a big filmmaking family. Her sister Xan had a wondrous debut with the documentary “Z Channel” last year while her brother Nick came out with the heartfelt “The Notebook” a few years back. Her father is the legendary actor/director John Cassavetes. The directing niche does not seem to have transferred to Zoe, which is very disappointing. If she decides to go behind the camera again, it would be wiser to get a better script.

It is also easy to feel bad for the supporting cast which includes legends such as Gena Rowlands and Peter Bogdanovich (both of which are completely underused) and new indie actors like Drea de Matteo and Justin Theroux. Justin Theroux is actually the highlight of the film, playing an actor who is completely in love with himself. Drea de Matteo should have been like her alter ego on “The Sopranos” and stayed dead instead of being in this piece of garbage.

With a weak script and awkward acting, “Broken English” just falls flat. Nothing about the film is worthy of merit except for Posey’s somewhat commendable job and Theroux’s few memorable scenes. Parker Posey has a long line of hits and misses, and this is another miss to add to that list. Ms. Posey, for the love of film, stick with Christopher Guest… please.

Grade: C-


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