Not easily forgotten...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 09/20/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While it certainly has flaws, there is something so raw and beautiful about `Not Easily Broken' that I can't seem to shake. Maybe it's the naturalness with which the actors fall effortlessly into their roles. Maybe it's the relatable feeling I get when watching this marriage break and re-set. Maybe it's the fact that `Not Easily Broken' avoids being `easy' and just tells it like it is.
The story is that of a young married couple (well, middle aged I guess) who are starting to crack. Dave, once with large dreams of playing professional baseball, now coaches little leaguers after a severe injury crushed his goals. His wife, Clarice, has become the family's primary breadwinner, growing her real estate dreams into something substantial. The couple is constantly at each others throats due to diverting goals. Dave, having separated himself from the life he once wanted to live, now wants a simpler life, one with children. Clarice is still very much into her own needs, wanting to build her career and travel without the heavy weight of `family' dragging her down. The couple has drifted apart, mentally and physically. Still, their problems seem minor when compared to some of their friends (who happen to be lodged in a messy divorce) and so it seem manageable. When Clarice is injured in a car accident, things come to a head in their marriage. Clarice's bossy and overbearing mother comes to live with the couple, and her two-cents start to wage war between Clarice and Dave, especially when Dave begins to seek emotional comfort in the arms of another woman.
You will never doubt that Dave and Clarice will work through things, but getting their will be a rocky and at times heartbreakingly realistic road.
As far as faults go, there are a few. I had a similar issue with Woody Allen's `Husbands and Wives'. For some reason, these films tend to be slightly biased. I mean, who isn't going to side with Dave here. I think that the film should have made it a little more even, or at least peppered in a few faults. And one cannot say that Dave forming feelings for Julie was a fault because, well, his wife and her mother would have driven ANY man to seek comfort elsewhere, and I'm telling you think from experience. But, I will also say, from experience, that no story is that one sided. Everyone has faults that contribute to the downfall of a marriage. So, it's minor in this state (because this film, unlike Allen's, isn't trying to make a broad statement on the dynamics of marriage) but it's worth noting. I also found the way the film wrapped things up to be a bit of a sell out (when it happens you will know what I mean), it just felt so Hollywood, especially when this film appropriately avoided `going there' for the most part. I hated the narration (unnecessary) and I thought that the film (at times) felt like a Made for TV Tyler Perry Movie, which made me cringe a bit, but thankfully the film managed to reign in that overly preachy dynamic that Perry lustfully lathers over every frame of his overpraised films.
The acting, especially on the parts of Morris Chestnut and the BRILLIANT Taraji P. Henson, is great. Even Jenifer Lewis (who is really nothing more than a cliché here) is exceptionally `raw'. I loved Kevin Hart (hilarious, even when delivering the preachy lines of dialog) and I thought that Maeve Quinlan understood how to temper her performance so as to seem real and approachable as aposed to staged and `manufactured' (as most `other women' in these films can come across).
In the end I recommend this movie. Like I said, it has flaws, but overall this movie really delivers a powerful punch that cannot be ignored. Marriage is a very controversial subject, but it is one that deserves to be tackled without fear. For the most part, `Not Easily Broken' manages to do that."