Broken English


Distributor: Magnolia
Cast: Parker Posey, Drea de Matteo, Melvil Poupad, Justin Theroux, Tim Guinee and Gena Rowlands
Director/Screenwriter: Zoe Cassavetes
Producers: Andrew Fierberg, Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente
Genre: Romantic comedy

It is that rare romantic comedy in which women can actually see themselves. Most of them are either popcorn fantasies or ridiculously reductive, strictly Hollywood constructs that never come completely alive. That is happily not the case with Broken English, Zoe Cassavetes’ witty feature debut that smartly outlines the dilemma of the heart facing one lonely Manhattan single, a character who is only too real in her romantic fumbling.

Cast against type, the so often brashParker Posey plays Nora Wilder, the head of customer relations at a chic boutique hotel. She has spent so many years seeing to the needs of others that she has neglected her own and now in her mid-30s, she finds herself, frozen smile in place, at the five-year anniversary party of her best friends Audrey (Drea de Matteo) and Mark(Time guinee)Her blunt mother (Cassavetes’ own mom Gena rowlands) is on hand to remind her that she could have had Mark and that she had better get cracking if she ever expects to find a husband.

It sounds like a simple enough instruction and while Nora’s neurotic, she is pretty and pleasant. But her judgment is faulty, leading to an unfortunate liaison with a hotel guest, actor Nick Gable (Justin theroux), whose ludicrous patter and misguided Mohawk ought to have served as big red warning signs to steer clear. Not that she fares any better with decent guys as she discovers on a blind date with Charlie .

She is about ready to give up when she decides to go to a co-worker’s Fourth of July bash after all, and meets Julien . He is charming; he is French; but most of all, instead of being put off by her neuroses the way previous men have been, he is amused—and smitten enough to ask her to return with him to Paris. She is far too earthbound, but on second thought—and with Audrey’s prodding—she decides to go even though the situation strikes her as impossible.

OK, maybe there is an element of fairytale in Broken English. Julien is, perhaps, too perfect. And maybe Paris didn’t work out so well for Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the city, but it is still the city that is synonymous with romance. Cassavetes gets that and takes advantage of that vibe, the filmmaker performing the role of fairy godmother to her heroine. Regardless of what happens with Julien, Paris provides a magical escape from mundane daily life for Nora—and for anyone watching her.


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