Was the script so good that such fine actors as Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy agreed to take part in this project or is this film so good thanks to those two gentlemen? Perhaps, as with everything – just like Rick Blaine once said in the immortal classic Casablanca – “it’s a combination of all three”. Three meaning: script+Tim Roth+Cillian Murphy. There is more. There is decent cinematography and the whole story could be entitled “Dead End, or a Drama in a Cul-De-Sac in the Middle of Nowhere”.
“Broken” perhaps draws its title from how broken the relationships between adults and children are, or perhaps how almost all of the teenagers/kids in the picture come from broken homes, or maybe that their future is/will be broken once they get out of the play staged in front of our eyes, or maybe what is broken is the contemporary system of education where kids have no place to go for help and violence at school is commonplace.
The drama is set out in a seemingly peaceful and quiet suburbian street of red brick London semidetached houses. What in theory would be considerably hard to do – describe a drama between more than three characters, here has been done successfully. I haven’t read the novel, on which the adaptation is based, but I presume this is where the structure comes from.
Incredible chronology tricks may feel like lost in editing or like the projectionist mixed the order of some rolls with film when putting them onto the projector, but this happens more than once. We see the effect and then the cause. However, the scenes are still coherent and presented separately.
The film shows a few days from three families living in the same dead end street. There is one single father (Archie – Tim Roth) with two kids, whose wife had escaped with an accountant from Birmingham a few years back. The daughter nicknamed Skunk suffers from type 1 Diabetes and is in love with her nanny’s (Kasia) boyfriend Mike (Cillian Murphy), who turns out to be her teacher, the son gets involved with the neighbour’s middle daughter. The neighbour (Mr Oswald – played by Rory Kinnear also known as 007’s boss’s M’s chief of staff Tanner) is another single father – widower and attempts at bringing up three daughters by himself. The third house in the area is occupied by Mr&Mrs Buckley – they have a mildly retarded son Rick.
As visible from the above – the dramatis personae are numerous and there is one more – Skunk’s teenage boyfriend. He is an orphan and when Skunk and Dillon get to know each other, their dialogue is symptomatic of the world that Skunk lives in. When he tells her he lives with his aunt (rather than his parents – this being implied rather than said), she asks about his dad – not about his mom, only to find both his parents were killed in a fire as well as his sister. But he doesn’t really care as he was very young when this happened.
Like I said earlier – this is a very much broken world that we bring our kids into. Is there hope? Well, perhaps there is – provided at least some of the kids have such loving and devoted fathers as the little Skunk (sometimes also called Emily…)…