By some odd coincidence,
this is the second new film called Broken that I've been asked to review
in about a month.
This is surprising as movie
studios almost never let such an overlapping of titles happen —
particularly with two films which were made about the same time. (Rule
of thumb is that a title is fair game again after about ten years.) If
two movies have the same name in production, one or the other will usually
blink and give up the title — and let's face it, Broken is a vague
enough designation that it could be easily changed. Amazingly, there
is apparently even a third Broken film out there, though it has taken
calling itself Broken: The Movie to differentiate itself from the
Ironically, in certain
ways, the two of these movies which I have seen are very similar, if only on a superficial level.
Both are extremely low-budget films (this one appears to have more money
behind it, just because of the talent involved, but it was still obviously
filmed on a shoestring.) Both films had very limited theatrical runs
before being released on video.
In most other ways, though,
the movies are completely different. The one from last month was a
gut-churning and sadistic British horror show. The less said about it,
This one is a stylish and
stylistic American hard-knocks drama about a beautiful girl from a small
town who moves to the big city in search of her dream, only to be nearly
destroyed by drugs, dead-end jobs, cheap sex, petty crime and the wrong men.
So in the Broken
sweepstakes, this is definitely the better of the two.
That doesn't necessarily
make it a good movie, though.
As you can tell from the
quick encapsulation of the plot I just did, Broken is not exactly the
most unique storyline ever — in fact I think the exact same storyline was
used in pretty much every hair metal music video in the 1980s.
The text on the DVD box
sprouts some hugger-mugger about Graham's character experiencing each of the
seven deadly sins, but while there is certainly a great deal of sinning
going on at the depressing Blue Star diner, I think that is a real stretch.
For example, where is gluttony? This takes place in a diner, it should
be easy enough to cover. How about sloth?
Also, in the new millennium, a fear of the deadly sins seems to be a bit
old-fashioned. Actually, the single scariest part of the
deadly-sins-themed horror movie Se7en was when I found out what the
seven deadly sins were — and that I and most people I know commit them on a
Instead, we get to watch
Graham's character (all-too-symbolically named Hope) work the night shift at
a tacky highway dive where everyone seems to have abnormal knowledge of her
These patrons include slimy
b-movie producers, a madame and one of her girls, some kids stoned on X on
their way to a one-night-stand, two junkies waiting for the man, a sleazy
record exec trying to sign a young band and a battered and quiet middle-aged
We are shown flashbacks in
Hope's life when she was bright and full of promise, an aspiring singer with
limited talent but unlimited dreams.
She meets a smooth-talking heroin junkie
(played by Sisto) named Will. And yes, he is forced to use the line "When
there's a Will, there's a way." More than once. Will leads
her astray, using her love to get her hooked.
Hope finally gets Will out
of her life, leading to this life of quiet desperation on the night shift of
the diner. She has given up her dreams and yet each and every patron
in the place symbolizes different potential paths she could have (or still
can) take in her life.
And we know Will is heading
for the dive with a stolen car and a gun.
No good can come from this.
Heather Graham looks way
too fit — too well built, glamorous and rested — to be someone who is recovering from
a heroin habit. You never quite buy her in the role, which is a fatal
problem in a film in which she is supposed to be the moral center.
Sisto — who has essentially been playing variations on this same role ever
since his breakthrough as Rachel Griffiths' bipolar brother on Six Feet
Under — does look the part of a heroin user, though.
In the end,
the movie plays so many stylistic tricks — flashing forward and back, into
and out of fantasy — that you have no idea what has actually happened and
what was just the drug-fuelled imagination of the characters. In fact,
the film flips back and forth between two completely separate and utterly
different resolutions without bothering to tell how we got from one place to
the other. Problem is, at that point, the audience doesn't really care
all that much, either.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 24, 2007.