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The Broken Circle Breakdown

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Belgium, Netherlands · 2012
1h 52m
Director Felix van Groeningen
Starring Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh, Nell Cattrysse, Geert Van Rampelberg
Genre Drama

Elise and Didier fall in love at first sight — in spite of their differences. He talks, she listens. He's a romantic atheist, she's a religious realist. But when an unexpected tragedy hits their new family, everything they know and love is tested. A moving portrait of a relationship from beginning to end.

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What are critics saying?


Slant Magazine by

Felix Van Groeningen's film owes more than a debt to the unwieldy narrative schematics of Susanne Bier's narratives.


Variety by Boyd van Hoeij

Sophisticated cutting brings out the story’s complex emotional undercurrents, though “Breakdown’s” less convincingly scripted second half sputters more often than it shines.


Time Out London by Cath Clarke

Heldenbergh and Baetens pull you in with committed performances ­– their raw pain and grief is totally believable. But all that honest, intense emotion is thrown away as the film outstays its welcome by 40 minutes or so, piling one tragedy on to another.


Time Out by David Fear

Both Baetens and Heldenbergh do their best to sell the story’s ups and downs even when the narrative gets bogged down with science-versus-religion ranting, yet you’re still left with a movie a little too reliant on playing clawhammer on your heartstrings.


The Playlist by Jessica Kiang

While Felix von Groeningen's film, which centers around a couple whose child is diagnosed with cancer, could easily have strayed into maudlin territory, the deft, non-chronological structure and the constantly surprising, beautiful performances -- both acting and the musical -- elevate it well clear of any Movie of the Week associations.


The Dissolve by Keith Phipps

At its best, The Broken Circle Breakdown has the feel of life as it’s remembered—moments out of time tethered together by the feelings of those living them.


The A.V. Club by Kyle Ryan

Once viewers adjust to the cognitive dissonance between intense Flemish dialogue and English performances of country and bluegrass songs,The Broken Circle Breakdown is a film that will likely stick with them long after the credits roll.

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