Adapted from Daniel Clay’s novel, Broken follows the trials and tribulations of a young girl, coarsely named Skunk (newcomer Eloise Laurence), as she approaches her teenage years and faces all manner of adversities, from relationships to intimate family dynamics. Broken is a multi-layered story, rich with conviction and featuring an excellent ensemble cast.
After witnessing an appalling, violent attack on her mentally disabled neighbour, Skunk’s perception of the world is altered dramatically and a spiral of events unfold, drastically affecting her and those around her. As this happens, the lives of two other families (the conservative Buckleys and the menacing Oswalds) descend into despair and tragedy. Whilst this may sound like the typical Mike Leigh kitchen sink slice of real misery, the tone of the film shifts from tragic to comic in a delicately woven pattern that doesn’t tamper with the film’s essence. In fact, very few films have been able to juggle emotions from one extreme to the other in the way that Broken has.
Despite the overly dramatic (and somewhat clichéd) climax of the film, Broken is ultimately a story about family and the disarray of communities in Britain. All of the characters are played with confidence and determination (especially Tim Roth, who, after major misfires, is finally choosing his roles with more thought). Ultimately, Broken is hilarious and heart-wrenching, and most importantly it is a film brimming with pathos.
Broken is in limited UK release from 8th March 2013.
Watch the trailer for Broken here