Broken English (Cassavettes, 2007)

It’s hard to know what other people are thinking, especially concerning romance. A bat of an eye, a shy glance, or even a misconstrued word can spell triumph or heartache when looking for love. Nora Wilder (Parker Posey), the charming heroine of Zoe Cassavettes wonderful romantic drama Broken English, works a boring hotel job while all of her friends sit married and supposedly happy. Life for Nora is standing still, a hodgepodge of self-pity and genuine worry. Throughout Broken English, Nora stumbles into many “romantic” encounters with different sorts of men, all inevitably fouled up by a failure of expectation, communication, or just plain chance. Posey’s performance and Cassavettes delicate pacing raises Broken English above the typical Hollywood romance picture, however the film does play by the genres’ rules – there’s the female and married best friend (Drea de Matteo) who’s just as unhappy as Nora, the wise old mother (Gena Rowlands), and the new French love interest (Melvil Poupad) seeping with appeal. But convention melts away as we get to see Nora panic, hope, dream, and cry for someone to not only to love, but to share her life with. Posey’s performance humanizes a cliche, taking the uncomfortable, loveless wench and churning her into a modern and complex woman searching for a connection in all the right places, yet striking out for reasons she doesn’t want to admit. There aren’t any easy answers to Nora’s situation, and it’s refreshing to experience her plight without a judgmental eye. After all the sturdy work Posey’s done over the years, I can’t say I’m surprised, but delighted does come to mind.

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