Broken is a light hearted, coming of age tale highlighting the harsh reality of contrasting family lives. Rufus Norris’s British drama takes advantage of the manipulation of time by introducing each event, starting with the future, followed by the past, and ending with the present and vice versa. However instead of using flashbacks, Norris uses time as a unique and controlling device to present conflicts, resolutions and questions in a disorientating manner.
Broken is a story of a young naive girl called Skunk (played by newcomer Eloise Laurence). Skunk always tries to find the best in whatever situation she is in and after witnessing a brutal attack on her friend Rick; her home, school and neighbourhood becomes confusing and deceitful. As other families around her fall apart, hers stays strong and with the constant loving support of her father, she eventually overcomes a situation which could have had disastrous consequences.
Unlike many films which surround a story around a particular character, Broken is a story told from the perspectives of all the people involved in Skunk’s life. Norris presents each character through their struggles and conflicts; a man who has recently lost his wife, three troubled teens, a young mentally unstable adult, parents unsure of how to deal with situations and a girl with diabetes who has bullying and relationship issues. Somehow Norris has intertwined the narratives like a patchwork, linking and connecting each character together. Without this inseparable connection, the films conclusion wouldn’t be possible.
What I love about many British dramas, especially this one is the sense of realism created. Additionally, what I specifically love about Broken is how Rufus Norris creates a cheerful presence in a neighbourhood full of harsh realities. Skunk and her brother find sanctuary in a junk yard, cram packed with vintage vehicles which brings an innocent, childlike essence to the film. However, the innocence of their lair is destroyed and broken.
Rufus Norris’s film Broken is based on Daniel Clay’s original novel and won the best British Independent Film Award of 2012, including best supporting actor award for Rory Kinnear; it is an enticing tale full of laughter, tears and joy. It isn’t comparable to other British coming-of-age dramas as it brings something new, exciting and moving all at the same time. It is a film which could easily have been made in a dark and miserable light, yet Norris has decided to illustrate the story as one with a silver lining.
Review by LiveWire Young Film Critic, Megan Al-Ghailani (March ’13)