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Brigitte's 8th Movie Night - "The Broken Circle Breakdown"

  • Jun 29, 2014 · 6:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

"The Broken Circle Breakdown" , bluegrass love story nominated for Best International Film.


"The Broken Circle Breakdown" opens on a tight shot of a group of down-home, country bluegrass musicians performing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." They may be "down home"—but not in the country you think. Though their English sounds flawless, they are actually Flemish musicians in Ghent 2006. And that American country classic they're singing? It's actually a religious hymn written by an Englishwoman over a hundred years ago. But the universal landscape circumscribed by that song—a spinning wheel of reason and faith—propels the heartbreaking tale that's about to unfold and the questions it raises: Is there life after death? Will the circle be unbroken?

"The Broken Circle Breakdown" fleshes out a meditation on the answers—to well-deserved acclaim on the international film festival circuit. It's a rich, raw, heartache of a film, a beautifully composed, soul-stirring drama about love, family, sex, sorrow, faith, and music. The movie—in Flemish with English subtitles—is adapted from a play co-written by Johan Heldenberghwho also stars here as Didier—a tall, handsome, soft-spoken bluegrass musician who loves America, the land of the fresh start. Didier falls passionately in love with a beautiful, vivacious tattoo artist named Elise-Veerle Baetens ("Best Actress" for this performance at the Tribeca Film Festival). She has covered her own body with the tattooed symbols of her life, the history of her broken romances etched into her skin. Now, Elise joins Didier's band (the actors do all their own remarkably good singing!), and soon they marry. Together they create a full, real and sensual life, so earthy you can smell the air they breathe. And one day, there are three: Maybelle is born and their little threesome blooms among a warm group of extended family and friends.

Suddenly, their little girl develops a serious illness—and we witness every wrenching twist and turn in this journey. I have never seen a more developed, charismatic, and poignant performance by a child this young in a film. Five year-old Nell Cattrysse plays Maybelle like a little sparkler, the light of her parents' life. She is equally authentic in every moment, happy and sad, a fully realized person onscreen. In fact, director/co-writer Felix Van Groeningen withCarl Joos) has elicited strikingly visceral, detailed performances from all of his actors, as well as an exquisitely tactile world. The intensity of Didier and Elise's lovemaking, as well as the sharp agony on their stricken faces in times of trial, will cut you up. The intimacy of the connection we feel to this family is palpable.

The bluegrass score is gorgeous—old and newly written tunes interwoven as musical interludes punctuating the film's themes. In fact, the film itself is structured like a bittersweet bluegrass song; the movie begins in the middle of Didier and Elise's relationship, then unwinds like a tune circling a recurring refrain, back and forth in time, between present and past, in an ever-widening circumference, deepening our understanding of their inner lives. Gradually we realize that Elise's attraction to the symbolic world, and the scars she wears—will lead her on a collision course with Didier's pragmatism and affinity for the "can do" optimism of America. The climactic crack-up occurs one night, right in the middle of a performance, literally center stage—before a live audience, who sit there aghast and confronted: Is the life we live, see, touch and feel, here and now—all there is? Is religion for cowards? Where shall we put our faith?

It's a wild scene of pain and desperation, and leads to the film's equally shocking and final blessed moments, which take us back to the film's beginning: Didier's band of musicians hovering—sometimes in the background, sometimes nearby—like a cowboy chorus, singing the songs of life, as celebration, as benediction, as commentary, as pure emotional release, singing in the void for all they are worth, singing that somehow we will all get through it —unbroken.

Rating: 3.5 / 4 - ‎Review by Joyce Kulhawik,

COST: Free 

Whatever you want to drink.

None live here. 

Brigitte's Private Residence 

Be sure to RSVP

The Guard will inform you whether to park on the odd or even numbered side of the street. Our neighbors thank you! 

Brigitte: [masked] 

SPECIAL THANKS: To Anna from our movie group who not only recommended the movie as her all time favorite, but also brought the DVD for us to watch. Based on my research of reviews she might be right about this being a favorite.

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  • Toni H.

    Did you receive sign up for Meryl and Sandy.

    July 1, 2014

  • Toni H.


    July 1, 2014

  • Kim H.

    Still thinking about that darn movie!! I think we were all surprised in the scene between the two of them where they are taking out their anger over their daughters death on one another and looking to blame in order to justify and she says "you never really wanted her, you had to go out with your friends to the bar and get so wasted that you didn't come home for 10 days..." Nothing in the movie eluded to that behavior from him so I believe all of us were surprised. Perhaps that scene was to communicate to us viewers that "you never know what is going on at home, behind the scenes... so don't live life thinking the grass is greener else where."
    Or was it to communicate that nothing is as it seems....

    July 1, 2014

  • Toni H.


    July 1, 2014

  • Barbara

    Interesting conversation thought provoking subject and friendly atmosphere.
    Thank you Bridgett.

    1 · July 1, 2014

  • Michael R.

    What Meetups are all about, shared stimulating gatherings.

    3 · June 30, 2014

  • Jubiliant J.

    Great acting, especially by the young daughter; fine directing, good music, strong life themes & raw, powerful intensity were major chords. Followed by a profound, rousing group discussion.

    1 · June 30, 2014

  • ABBY S.

    An intense,well directed film.......a congenial group participating in stimulating conversation made for an enjoyable evening.Thank you Brigitte!

    1 · June 30, 2014

  • Michael R.

    I needed an evening of reflection to gestate this at once tragic and yet ultimately redemptive film.

    And yet I still came to the same conclusion as last evening, that this was a depiction of the contrasts between spirituality, religion and and agnosticism.. With like so much in life the lines becoming blurred and eventually vanishing.

    This family, beset with what most consider the most wrenching, emotionally disabling occurrence that a family can endure, still made beautiful soulful music together. Though it did not result in a pleasing or satisfying conclusion, the soulful spirit again prevailed.

    1 · June 30, 2014


    here is a quote from johan
    I wanted to make a political statement. I want to say to people I’m scared right now. When I start writing, I always start with a political point of view. (refers to stem cell and bush)

    June 30, 2014

  • Paul H. B.

    I think Brigitte summed it up well saying conversation was the best part of the evening which has regularly been the case.
    The film was more than stimulating and a lot of grist for the mill.
    It was rich with many of the major questions in life regarding beliefs, spirituality, religion's impact on life, couplehood, loss... you name was in this movie...which, although sad, portrayed many of life's realities. Perspective was a needed filter to see which "reality" we wanted to focus on.
    A terrific evening once again.

    2 · June 30, 2014

  • Michelle

    Last I looked I was on the wait list. Sorry I missed it.

    June 29, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm coming! I'm glad a spot opened up tonight! I regretted it after I changed my RSVP yesterday! Yay!!!

    1 · June 29, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    From Boca, therapist and coach....looking forward to meeting everyone.

    June 29, 2014

  • Anna S

    I have a friend coming in from out of town that I need so I won't be able to attend after all. I was so looking forward to the discussion, I hope it is awesome!

    June 28, 2014

  • Toni H.

    I am bringing a lguest. When will we know if we're able to go

    June 26, 2014

    • Toni H.

      Sandra Block name of giest

      June 27, 2014

    • Toni H.


      June 27, 2014

  • Sandra F.

    Is anyone drive from the Ft Lauderdale area or a little north so that I could catch a ride. i could drive to where you are and would share the gas.

    June 24, 2014

    • Barbara

      Sandra do you still need a ride call to let me know Barbara[masked]

      June 25, 2014

  • Barbara M.

    Sorry I have theatre tix for the 29th. Look forward to the next event.

    June 20, 2014


    hi b,
    planning i n bringing anna and ann, 2 friends

    1 · May 29, 2014

  • Jubiliant J.

    This sounds like a most Unusual an Intriguing movie!!

    2 · May 27, 2014

  • Paul H. B.

    WOW!!!! What a fascinating write up...this film sounds loaded with experiences that I suspect are cinematically so engaging, so raw and yet it sounds so real's hard to know what we will see as they have described it, but it should be a fascinating experience...can't wait....

    1 · May 27, 2014

  • Pat L.

    Movie sounds interesting. Unfortunately I'll be away during that time. I hope to make the next one.

    May 26, 2014

24 went

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