The Broken Circle Breakdown

I always knew. That it was too good to be true. That it couldn’t last. That life isn’t like that, life isn’t generous. You mustn’t love someone. You mustn’t become attached to someone. Life begrudges you that. It takes everything away from you and it laughs in your face. It betrays you.

Elise Vandevelde – The Broken Circle Breakdown

I love foreign films. There’s just something about people speaking in a language I can’t understand that gets me. Fascinates me even. I’m never bothered by the subtitles. I know people who would never watch a movie with sub-titles. Personally I don’t mind them, if the story line is good they could speak Martian for 90 minutes and I’d still be as engrossed as I would be watching it in English. Hollywood movies nowadays don’t really float my boat. Since I’m not a sci-fi fan or marvel die-hard, this means I’m pretty much locked out of the blockbuster movie scene. The comedies with their raunchy jokes and crazy antics don’t make me laugh either and the love stories just don’t move me any more.

It’s why I ventured into foreign films. To see what countries other than America have to say about love, friendship, family and even war. That’s how I came across this movie: the broken circle breakdown. When I first saw the title I was like…huh? The broken circle breakdown? Is that like some kind of riddle? I couldn’t guess what the movie was about from the title but the description seemed pretty cool so I thought I’d check it out. I make a point to attend the European film festival held every year at Alliance Française. It’s a showcase of some of the best films made in various European countries over the year and I have to say Czechoslovakia makes some pretty good films. Make sure you go catch a film or two next year, you will be pleasantly surprised.

This particular movie was produced in Belgium and the whole movie is in Flemish which is what they call “Belgian Dutch.” It’s a moving tale of love and loss, of joy and pain, of happiness and sorrow. It’s also a movie about acceptance, looking beyond the superficial. To the very soul of another human being and making the decision to accept them as they are and love them forever. I find that acceptance is sorely lacking in the world we live in today. That everyone must fit into a certain box in order to be accepted. That those who are even the slightest bit different find themselves ostracized and despised. There has never been a more unlikely pairing than the couple in this movie. The girl is beautiful, vibrant and bubbly and her whole body is covered in tattoos. She’s a rebel who runs her own tattoo parlour. The guy is sullen, quiet and shy and plays the banjo in a bluegrass band. He’s her complete opposite.

Let me stop there and quickly explain what bluegrass is. I didn’t know what it was until I watched the movie. Bluegrass is a sub-genre of country music where one or more instruments each take their turn playing the melody while the others perform accompaniment. Bluegrass artists use a variety of stringed instruments to create that beautiful melody. Listen to a sample melody here:

Beautiful right?yes?…ok bye. I also learnt that in music, a breakdown is part of a song in which various instruments have solo parts (breaks). It’s a popular musical style used particularly in bluegrass music. The title of the movie is still a mystery to me even despite making Google my friend.

Now back to our unlikely duo. They meet and instantly fall madly in love. No inhibitions, no judgement, just two souls that were meant to be finding each other and sticking together. They date for all of five minutes and get married amidst their family of bluegrass singers. Turns out the chic can sing as well and she’s really good. From there, it all goes south and a devastating tragedy that happens to their young family threatens to break them up. It’s a story about loss and how differently everyone deals with it. I think men tend to deal with loss on the inside, never quite bringing their emotions to their surface. Women tend to be slightly more vocal and emotional and sometimes take it out on those around them. It’s a heartbreaking movie for sure. But above all, it’s a movie about patience and gentleness. Heaven knows the world could use a little more patience and gentleness.

Try this movie. It will move you and make you shed a tear or two. It will restore your faith in love. The good kind of love. It will also make you realize the truth of that old blues song “maybe sometimes love just ain’t enough.” It will make you wish you spoke Flemish, because seriously, the language sounds so beautiful. Even when they’re yelling it sounds nice. And if you’re like me and you love country music, then the music will make the movie that much more interesting.

Here’s the link to watch it. It has English subtitles. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think of it. No spoilers for the rest please 🙂