Broken English



This review was written for the theatrical release of "Broken English."

NEW YORK -- Parker Posey again proves her necessity to the indie film world with her complicated performance in Zoe Cassavetes' feature debut. Demonstrating that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, the screenwriter-director has delivered a well-observed film boasting highly realistic performances and dialogue, if not plot elements. But it's Posey's fascinating portrayal of a thirtysomething Manhattan single woman looking for love that lifts the film above its "Sex and the City" predictabilities.

Posey plays Nora Wilder, who smoothly handles customer relations at a posh boutique hotel catering to the rich, famous and difficult. Still single -- a fact that she is constantly reminded of by her nagging mother (Gena Rowlands) -- Nora looks on with admiration at the seemingly perfect marriage of her best friend, Audrey (Drea de Matteo), and her adoring director husband (Tim Guinee).

The difficulties of singlehood are well-demonstrated by a couple of episodes. In the first, Nora succumbs to the charm of a famous actor (Justin Theroux) only to discover that the self-obsessed lout is dating his current co-star. In the second, she goes on a blind date -- set up by her mother, no less -- that proves disastrous when the ex of the man (Josh Hamilton) suddenly shows up.

Ready to give up, Nora then meets a handsome and perfect Frenchman, Julien (Melvil Poupaud), who boasts a sexy accent to go along with his perfectly angled fedora. Just as the relationship is staring to jell, however, he goes back home to Paris, with Nora eventually following in an impulsive attempt to continue the relationship.

The film is ultimately more effective in isolated scenes than with its overall narrative, which becomes particularly ineffective with the Parisian interlude and the highly contrived ending. But those scenes, depicting the poignancy of someone desperately looking for emotional as well as physical connection, provide equal measures of emotion and humor, and Posey is superbly equipped to handle them. Her complicated performance provides the film with a depth not always present in the script.

Magnolia Pictures/HDNet Films
A Vox3 Films and Phantom Film Co. production
in association with Backup Films
Director-screenwriter: Zoe Cassavetes
Producers: Andrew Fierberg, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente
Executive producers: Todd Wagner, Mark Cuban
Director of photography: John Pirozzi
Production designer: Happy Massee
Music: Scratch Massive
Co-producer: Keisuke Konishi
Costume designer: Stacey Battat
Editor: Andrew Weisblum
Nora Wilder: Parker Posey
Julien: Melvil Poupaud
Audrey Andrews: Drea de Matteo
Nick Gable: Justin Theroux
Vivien Wilder-Mann: Gena Rowlands
Mark: Tim Guinee
Running time -- 97 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13