Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Broken Circle Breakdown": Bluegrass Brings Heartache to the Unsuspecting People of Belgium 

Wednesday, Nov 20 2013
Comments

Felix Van Groeningen's Broken Circle Breakdown portrays a kind of relationship dynamic that isn't often seen in movies, particularly American movies — so it's fitting that it is a Belgian film, one which examines the influence of American culture and politics on the rest of the world. The picture jumps freely around the timeline of the relationship of punky tattoo-aficionado Elise (Veerle Baetens) and bluegrass-aficionado and wannabe-cowboy Dieder (Johan Heldenbergh, sporting the fakest-looking beard since Thomas Bo Larsen's in The Hunt) as they come together, start a family, and lose it all. The soundtrack is wall-to-wall bluegrass, including several performances from Elise and Dieder's band, and while there are intimations of A Star is Born-style strife — channeling Kris Kristofferson would justify Heldenbergh's horrible facial hair, at least — Broken Circle Breakdown goes in a different direction, pondering whether a couple can survive under great emotional stress when they have very different ideas about religion, and what it means to sing a Christian song like "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" when you have every reason to distrust the religion it glorifies. Van Groeningen's camera is smitten with Baetens' inked flesh, and the tattoos are central to the film's marketing, but if the audience comes for the skin and stays for the music and the drama, so be it.

About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"