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Brandon Judell

Broken English: Parker Posey is Unloved


Review of "Broken English"
Director/writer: Zoe Cassavetes
Executive Producers: Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner
Cinematography: John Pirozzi
Cast: Parker Posey, Melvil Poupard, Drea de Matteo, Justin Theroux, Josh Hamilton, Tim Guinee, Gena Rowlands, Peter Bogdanovich, Roy Thinnes

It's that time of year when Academy members and accredited film critics are bombarded by the studio with DVDs of every ilk to consider for an award or a mention on a top-ten list. The deliveries are so frequent, the FedEx man and I feel we're dating. Consequently, I'm counting over 50 films of varying merits scattered over my living room floor so far.

So what are the pitches?

How about Paul P. Soucek for Best Sound Editing for "Michael Clayton"? Or Marketa Irglova for Best Actress in "Once"? Or "The Rocket: The Legend of Maurice Richard" for Best Something or Other? Do I really have to watch a biopic on hockey to find out?

Yes, it's the critic's duty to refresh his memory of the films he saw last January and to view the one's he's missed altogether.

In that spirit, I closed my eyes and picked out Zoe Cassavetes' "Broken English."

"Broken English" opened June 24th, was made for an estimated two million, garnered close to a million dollars at the box office, and was released on DVD less than two months later.

To say it is has not reached cult status yet is understating this little film's reception. It's already available for $5.45 on Amazon.com.

Fate has a bit unfair here because this little romancer for its first two-thirds perfectly captures what it's like to be a female in your late 30s and in need of a loving male to canoodle with.

The heroine here, Norah Wilder (Parker Posey), who's in charge of customer relations at a swank N.Y.C. hotel, is constantly winding up with the wrong man both in and out of her job locale.

One reason is that Nora believes that every man who's nice enough to seduce her into bed is also in search of a long-time commitment. It's a notion that can get you committed,

And Nora's seems to heading to the funny farm. She drinks too much alcohol, has a bottle of anti-anxiety pills ever ready, and dons her angst like a Girl Scout badge. Even a fortuneteller from ten feet away can diagnose Nora as lonely.

And as a man on a nearby barstool observes: "Most people are together just so they are not alone. But some people want magic. I think you are one of those people."

Yes, Nora agrees. She does want magic, but right then she's not only without the bunny, she's without the hat.

Director/ writer Cassavetes, the daughter of actor John and actress Gena, captures this desperate need for love unequivocally. There's not a wrong note in her direction and writing until she plans to resolve Nora's situation with the introduction of a perfect French male (Melvil Poupard) and then by sending her to Paris in search of him. (By avoiding a more risky finale, Cassavetes courts the banal.)

Another slight problem is that Nora as played by Posey is so obviously damaged goods that you can't help wondering why the perfect French male would be attracted to her for more than an orgasm and a shared baguette.

Ah, but then, of course, she is Parker Posey, whose performance here is beautifully nuanced and finally bereft of the slight comic cynicism so many of her characterizations are slightly edged with.

Posey's admirers will experience a sensual intoxication that fans always experience when their film goddesses are at their very best.

So in the end, no there's no Oscar in the cards this year for either Posey or Cassavetes but a Spirit Award nomination is not out of the question. And that's not a bad outcome.


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