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The Broken
The Broken
Actors: Lena Headey, Ulrich Thomsen, Melvil Poupaud, Michelle Duncan, Asier Newman
Director: Sean Ellis
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
R     2009     1hr 33min

The life of a successful radiologist spirals out of control when she sees the spitting image of herself driving down a London street. While attempting to uncover who the imposter could be, she stumbles into a terrifying my...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Lena Headey, Ulrich Thomsen, Melvil Poupaud, Michelle Duncan, Asier Newman
Director: Sean Ellis
Creators: Angus Hudson, Sean Ellis, Franck Chorot, Lene Bausager, Marshall Leviten, Winnie Li, Yves Chevalier
Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/31/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Deidra C. (Deidra670) from GARRETT, KY
Reviewed on 3/22/2011...
THE BROKEN was a good time. Why does it seem that British horror has it more together than American? I think we should pack up and go overseas where the horror is taken more seriously.

Lena Heady (shout out, I loved her in THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES) is a radiologist who has the perfect family, the perfect boyfriend and the perfect career. She has it all. Until one day when she sees herself driving by. Understandable, she is quite upset, but when she wakes up in the hospital, a victim of a head-on collision, things get really weird.

To say any more would spoil the fun. THE BROKEN doesn't rely on special effects to carry the movie. What it does have is a cohesive story line that blends together to a satisfying conclusion that I didn't see coming.

So, check out THE BROKEN. It's a good time.

Just stay out of the attic.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Not for everyone, but I sure like it
General Zombie | the West | 04/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'll open with a warning: as fond as I am of "The Broken," I suspect few others will share my enthusiasm. Lots will like it, a few will hate it (particularly the ending), but it is so tailored towards my not always conventional horror movie ideals that few will admire it the way I do. Also, my nonexistent expectations probably colored my response a bit. (I've watched it twice now and enjoyed it no less the second time, but the initial impression can last even in later viewings.) So consider this a caveat for my readers, if any.

"The Broken" is perhaps the most praised entry in the years After Dark Film Festival set (faint praise, no doubt), and is a brief, extremely stylish and moody exercise in low-key horror. Make no mistake, those looking for visceral horror will be met with lengthy, near silent scenes where the disturbed protagonists wanders about the empty apartment, trying to understand her peculiar situation. (The moments of overt horror are effective, but rare, though perhaps too melodramatic for some tastes.) The tactics are drawn straight from the moody horror handbook: blue filter, rain, strangely empty streets, slow, creeping camera movements, rumbling music, ominously symbolic imagery (broken glass) etc. That said, the execution is remarkably adroit, and director Ellis maintains are air of uncertainty all throughout the film. (The performances are also solid, though not much is expected of them.) The film plays as something of a cross between Invasion of the Body Snatchers (doppelgangers, paranoia issues) and The Ring (the visuals, emphasis on mood), and manages to combine the two approaches so as to avoid redundancy. Many will still accuse it of being a rip-off of something or other, but that's usually a lazy, non-analytic criticism. Most genre pics just recycle the tropes--that's what they're supposed to do, for the most part.

The story is simple: one night a grown family living in London meet for a pleasant birthday dinner for the father, though one interrupted by the ominous shattering of a large mirror sitting opposite the dinner table. The daughter Gina (Lena Headey) soon finds her life has gone awry, as she, the next day, spots a mysterious, identical woman driving along the road. Gina follows her to an apartment containing apparent emblems from her life (a photo of her (?) and her father (?)) then drives off distraught, only to crash her jeep and land in the hospital. She cannot remember the details of her crash, though she is upset by the memory of her double, and comes to believe that the now strangely cold and distant Stephan is not her boyfriend. Even worse, the plague of doubles appears to spread throughout the city, as observed by other family members.

The story is, again, minimal, though it uses themes I particularly like, and I enjoy how it refuses to explain or contextualize itself excessively. It's like the best horror short stories, where we just slip through the real world and into an eerie variant where terrors lurk. (A mirror shatters, and suddenly nothing is the same anymore.) This is perhaps my favorite sort of horror, and no film I've seen in recent memory evokes it better than "The Broken." Some, however, will view it as all mood and no payoff, and that's a position I can respect, if not agree with. (Its being a scant 83 minutes, minus the credits, helps on this front.)

It is, however, impossible to fully consider "The Broken" w/o mentioning the ending. In short, I think it works, but I need to go into more detail, particularly to explain to those who've seen the film and didn't like it why I did appreciate it. Those who do not want the ending revealed should skip this paragraph. Last chance to move on . . . Okay, now that we've gotten rid of the others, here goes: It is finally revealed that who we believe is Gina through most of the pic is, in fact, her doppelganger. When Gina entered the apartment (her own apartment) the double kills her and drives off. She crashes, though, and loses her recent memories, along with having her personality temporarily altered by the bruising. This is a somewhat contrived conclusion, but I love one aspect: it refuses to sellout the premise of the movie. In films like these, it always turns out that the protagonist was delusional in some way, thus negating the supernatural. Ellis plays up this angle, leads us down the path and then inverts it: the main character is delusional, but in a way that reinforces the supernatural reality of the film, rather than subverting it. Thus, though a bit contrived, it works beautifully on a kind of metafictional level. Perhaps more to the point, the endings in these films are rarely inspired; the films should be about the mood generated by the mystery, not the solution. Those who are angered by it should remember this, and reflect on how hackneyed and obvious the revelatory endings to all the other mysterious horror pics they've seen were.

Anyway, this was a very pleasant surprise. Even those who disagree on the effectiveness of the ending should be able to appreciate the moody, paranoid ambience of the rest, provided they admire that kind of thing. Check it out.

Grade: A-
"
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 01/12/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Watching "The Broken" is like playing an endless game of Clue without ever finding out who killed Mr. Boddy. It's a mystery without a solution, a tense psychological drama that reveals nothing other than how tense and psychological it is. It plays mind games only with itself, leaving the audience to watch from the sidelines in a bored, confused stupor. The idea behind it is intriguing, and for a time, it successfully builds itself up. The thing is, the act of building is pointless if there's no height requirement. At a certain point, it becomes painfully clear that the story will only keep building without ever reaching anything. I do give it credit for creating the right atmosphere; the characters inhabit a moody, subdued world where nothing seems safe, not even a person's own home. But atmosphere can only go so far, even in a horror film. It also needs an understandable story with an ending that doesn't leave us with more questions than answers.

It doesn't help that "The Broken" is unbearably slow, and this is despite the relatively short running time of eighty-eight minutes. Specific shots are dragged out so long that I eventually stopped waiting for something shocking to happen. It works only the first few times, at which point I kept in mind that suspense is most effective when things go slowly. After those few times pass, however, the film comes dangerously close to being boring, moments of horror and all. This is probably because it does a fine job showing us what happens, but it does a terrible job explaining why or how it's happening. By the end of the film, I was unable to make heads or tails of what I had just seen. What a shame, especially since it opens on such a promising note.

The film begins by quoting the final lines of Edgar Allen Poe's short story "William Wilson": "You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead--dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist--and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself." The story, you see, explores the theme of the doppelganger, or the double, where the self is divided amongst two separate yet identical bodies. In Poe's story, another William Wilson--who looks similar and shares the same birthday--continuously haunts the protagonist to the point of insanity. The same theme exists in "The Broken," which tells the story of Gina McVey (Lena Headey), a British radiologist who, after seeing a clone of herself, gets into a serious car accident. As she recovers, she begins to fear that things aren't quite right, that her French boyfriend, Stephan (Melvil Poupaud), isn't the person he once was.

From here, the story takes a long-winded journey through strange territory, where mirrors constantly shatter and fragmented bits of memory keep flashing on the screen. Gina keeps trying to make sense of the crash, and apparently, so is writer/director Sean Ellis, who constantly shows it in slow-motion replays from various angles. He also relies greatly on composer Guy Farley, whose score is almost entirely made up of dissonant crescendos. It creates a mood, but what good is mood without context? Scary things keep happening, yet there's no explanation for any of it, which tells me one of two things: Either this movie is an experimental art piece that intentionally challenges rational thought, or Ellis was so taken by the psychological themes that he neglected to focus on an actual plot. It's difficult to believe that it's the former, given the fact that Gina is not the only character with a doppelganger problem. Her American father (Richard Jenkins), her brother (Asier Newman), and her brother's wife (Michelle Duncan) are all affected in some way, probably because of a scene early in the film--when the entire family eats dinner at the father's house, a large mirror in the dining room suddenly falls over and shatters.

For the sake of argument, let us say that "The Broken" is intended to challenge rational thought. Are we to assume, then, that the plot itself is irrelevant, that we're only supposed to follow the psychological implications? If that's the case, then there's no better example of it than a plot twist near the end of the film, which, if you choose to interpret it metaphorically, effectively raises questions about which side of a mirror represents the reflection.

But again, the fact that more than one character has a doppelganger makes the idea difficult to accept. How could such a broad psychological concept apply to so many people? Maybe this film would have worked had it focused entirely on Gina, because at least then the mystery would be much less open to interpretation. There would be some sense that the story is actually reaching for something. When you have multiple characters with evil doubles of themselves, the symbolic ideas are bound to get hopelessly confused with one another. Such is the problem with "The Broken," a film that puts too many characters into a needlessly enigmatic story. I have no doubt that Ellis is trying to get at something, but for the life of me, I haven't a clue what it is. The only thing I got out of it, aside from the atmosphere, was a desire to reread the works of Edgar Allen Poe. So maybe seeing this film wasn't such a bad idea after all."
Mood But Not Logic (SPOILER INCLUDED)
Martin Asiner | Jersey City, NJ | 08/30/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"THE BROKEN is a film that is long on mood and atmosphere but short on logic and climax. The plot is a combination of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and almost any movie by Hitchcock. The problem is that these latter works used mood and a slow buildup of suspense to move toward a logical end. Lena Headey is Gena, a radiologist who spends much of her time looking at the shattered bones in X-rays. Shattering seems to take on a life as a motife. For no apparent reason mirrors shatter numerous times. Shards of glass are ubiquitous. Director Sean Ellis may be trying to imply that THE BROKEN is not aiming to be a traditional film with a straight line plot that moves toward an understandable climax. Perhaps he means it to be a work of metaphysics that is trying to say something about the world in which we live. If that is so, then he has failed miserably. I have no idea what is the metaphysical or allegorical underpinning. What I do know is that Ellis keeps teasing the viewer with a non-stop series of scenes that individually are arresting but collectively go nowhere.

One day, Gina sees a woman drive a car and who looks just like her. A coincidence? The world is full of doppelgangers, Gina follows her to this double's apartment only to find a picture of herself with her father. She does not recognize the picture. In a daze, she drives her car and has a head on collision with another vehicle. When she wakes up in the hospital, she has little memory of the accident. It is at this point that director Ellis keeps inserting multi-faceted roadblocks that seem to lead toward a plot that would rationalize the existence of a duplicate Gina. But, Ellis complicates matters by involving other doubles as well. Her boyfriend, her father, and her sister are all murdered to be replaced by lookalikes. Why we do not know. Her father is an ambassasor in London, Gina herself is a doctor, her boyfriend is an architect, her sister is a housewife, but all are otherwise unremarkable. No one is a mad scientist nor has a job in cloning or genetics. There is simply no logic to any of this. Finally, (SPOILER)we learn that the Gina in the accident is the double--she has eliminated the original only to lose her memory. The ending is a total copout. What I took away from THE BROKEN is that when a film promises some logic to accomodate a series of intriguing premises but fails to deliver a controlling logic, then what gets broken is an implied covenant between director and viewer to respect the latter's intelligence as the former titillates that viewer with some really gothic subtexts."