Director: Zoe R. Cassavetes
Writer: Zoe R. Cassavetes
Cinematographer: Simon Duggan
Starring: Parker Posey, Drea de Matteo, Gena Rowlands, Melvil Poupaud, Peter Bogdanovich
Studio/Running Time: HDNet Films, 97 min.
"Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all."
-Theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Director Zoe Cassavetes has some impressive family ties. Her mother, Gena Rowlands, who plays a supporting role in Cassavetes feature debut Broken English, is considered to be one of cinema’s most accomplished actresses (Gloria, A Woman Under the Influence). And Zoe’s late father was the talented John Cassavetes whose acting (Rosemary’s Baby, The Dirty Dozen), writing (Husbands, Gloria) and directing (Gloria, A Woman Under the Influence) made him one of the most creative forces in Hollywood. Suffice to say, those are some big shoes to fill. Dad would be proud of her first sit down in the director's chair, though, despite the fact that Broken English does have its problems.
The film follows the humdrum life of Nora Wilder (Parker Posey), a thirty-something, still-unmarried New Yorker who drinks too much and regularly makes questionable choices in men, much like a modern day Mary Tyler Moore. Her mom, played by Rowlands, digs at her for letting her best male friend (Tim Guinee) marry her best female friend (Drea de Matteo) instead of Wilder. Her dead-end job further depresses her until she unexpectedly meets Julien (Melvil Poupaud), a happy-go-lucky Frenchman with whom she warily begins a relationship.
While the script takes much too long to establish and develop its characters, the performances sparkle throughout. In Posey, we see her wariness and vulnerability change to indifference and back to insecurity and eventually to a peaceful strength. Poupaud is also excellent, and Matteo proves she’s more than just a Soprano (not that there's anything wrong with that). The Cassavetes bloodline tradition continues strongly with Broken English. Here's to seeing where this legendary family goes next.