As soon as I read the brief summary for the 2012 DVD The Broken Circle Breakdown, a film in Flemish, I added it to my Netflix list. The film by Felix van Groeningen was based on a stage play, though I had no idea of its theatrical origin until I watched the interview with the director.
What the synopsis said was this:
Elise is a tattoo artist and religiously devout, while Didier is an atheist banjo player in a bluegrass band, but the two fall instantly in love. Years later, when their daughter becomes ill, the crisis brings new challenges to their relationship.
Though it was largely well reviewed (I use RottenTomatoes.com where they collate reviews from all over), some of the reviewers felt the story was a little melodramatic. I found it to be rather subtle and compelling, with all emotion dearly earned.
The bluegrass music movingly played and sung (in English) by Elise and Didier and a band of their friends contributed to the story’s ability to access my emotions. I haven’t had to wipe away tears for a while (thank or blame my Zoloft), but this story and the incredibly good acting got to me. Pretty sexy too.
The religious/atheist conflict wasn’t heavy-handed, although the father’s rant after he watched then-President Bush explain on TV why he was vetoing a stem cell research bill was pretty close to over-the-top. Correct as was every word he yelled at the audience who’d come to hear the band, and as much as I kept wanting to shout “Right on!” at the screen, the sheer fury of that speech came almost out of nowhere.
Apparently Didier’s atheism was quiescent until he realized that it was the irrationality of religion that had kept his daughter from a more likely cure. I haven’t noticed a scene in an American film that jarring, that acidic. Long overdue.