Next-generation Cassavetes makes directorial debut

Broken English

on June 22, 2007 by Chad Greene
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“Men hate me,” declares Nora (Parker Posey), sipping one of the many drinks she downs in Broken English .

“You hate yourself,” retorts her best friend, Audrey (Drea De Matteo).

Audiences, however, won't find anything to hate in writer/director Zoe Cassavetes first feature—least of all Nora. Despite the fact that—or, more accurately, because —her spirit has nearly been Broken by decades of romantic disappointments, Nora's fumbling fall into an at-first unlikely love is eminently endearing.

Played poignantly by Posey, this lonely lady drinks too much, smokes too much and—most of all—worries too much. “I think I must be doing something horribly wrong, but I don't know what it is,” Nora frets to her mother Vivian (played by Cassavetes' real-life mom, Gena Rowlands). Needless to say, Vivian's observation that “the good ones get snapped up so quickly at your age,” with its implied emphasis on the last three words, doesn't do much to alleviate her thirtysomething daughter's bouts of depression and anxiety.

What does is Nora's enchanting encounter with a Frenchman named Julien (Melvil Poupaud) at—of all places—a Fourth of July party in Manhattan. Although she initially refuses Julien's invitation to “run away” with him after a whirlwind weekend, Nora nonetheless finds herself—soon enough—searching the streets of the “City of Love” for her Parisian paramour.

When Audrey protectively protests, “you have no sense of direction, and you're way too shy,” it almost rings ironic, because if Broken English has anything, it's a bold sense of direction.
Distributor: Magnolia
Cast: Parker Posey, Drea de Matteo, Melvil Poupad, Justin Theroux, Tim Guinee and Gena Rowlands
Director/Screenwriter: Zoe Cassavetes
Producers: Andrew Fierberg, Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: PG-13 for some sexual content, brief drug use and language
Running time: 98 min.
Release date: June 22, 2007 ltd, July exp
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