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A single thirtysomething whose friends all seem to be romantically involved, happily married, or with child meets an eccentric Frenchman who shows her just what an amazing place the world can truly be in director Zoe Cassavetes' entry into the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. As if it wasn't depressing enough to be 35 and still single, Nora (Parker Posey) is constantly reminded by her loving but tactless mother (Gena Rowlands) just how unlucky she has been in love. Though Nora longs to enter into a blissful union like the one ...


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Feb 23, 2008

Broken English: Parker Posey goes within

"Broken English" is writer/director Zoe Cassavetes? film debut starring Parker Posey as Nora Wilder, a thirty-something, upper-middle-class female stuck in a husband-finding funk. I recently picked up the Broken English DVD, released August 21, 2007, and found it to be quite a rewarding pick, especially for any female who has learned that ?you have to find love and happiness within yourself before you can share this with a partner.? Nora Wilder's character left me giggling as she became down-right confused, frustrated and full of wiggles as she goes through and tackles this difficult ?life lesson.?
Nora Wilder has a life full of just about everything she could ever need. She?s a graduate of Sarah Lawrence, a single female living on her own in a downtown Manhattan apartment. She has long-time friends and family relatively close and a solid career in charge of guest services at a posh New York hotel. All in all, it appears Nora has her ducks waddling in a nice straight row.
On the flip-side of this coin though, we learn that there is a darker side to Nora's ducky world. She has spent 8 years working in guest services, not because she enjoys this position, but basically for her lack of venturing to do anything else with her career. She?s feeling pressure from her mother, Vivien, (Gena Rowlands, Zoe Cassavetes? real-life mother) to find the ?right? man, and of course, mom has planned the perfect route to make this happen for her daughter.
Nora, herself, long ago reached the level where her lack of success on the dating scene eroded her self confidence and her sense of security began to splinter. Self-pity took over Nora?s life and the audience begins to feel she?s close to incapable of independently living on her own.
Nora?s loneliness and her quest to overcome the stigma?s of female singlehood are further spurred forward by the five year ?perfect marriage? of her best friend, Audrey (Drea de Matteo, The Sopranos), as well as Nora?s own apathy regarding the dating grind, as she cranks through dates faster than VIPs can check into the hotel.
Though I found the first part of this film slow and drawn-out to tell the story of Nora?s two-sided coin, I did find myself afterwards rooting for her and almost waved at my screen to get her attention and say, ?Girlfriend, you need to get out of this rut!?
Nora spent too many mornings waking up in a lonely wine-induced stupor on her sofa. She became closed-off, desperate, and obviously tired of the magical man chase. Finding a loveable mate appeared out of the question, the entire search thus far in the film left her with was panic-attacks, depression and a bottle of valium.
Just when Nora?s thoughts change to potentially settling for a bozo-boy with the right ?image,? foregoing finding love simply to take the weight of singlehood off her shoulders, a chain-smoking romantic Frenchman, Julien (Melvin Poupaud), enters the film and shortly afterwards, Nora?s life. Their ensuing days are full of fun laughs and adventures containing simplicity which leads Nora to wrestling with the word, ?No.? ?No, this can?t happen?somewhere; somehow, I?m going to screw this up?.
Perhaps you?ve found yourself in the middle of this same pickle. If not, all it takes is Broken English to see the ifs, ands, buts and doubts of a self-conscious woman. Nora constantly wrestles with these in this relationship, making life more complicated than it really needs to be. Parker Posey has an outstanding performance while her character Nora tosses and turns questions of love, romance, commitment, her own self-identity and what she wants truly wants in her life.
In the midst of Broken English?s light tale of love?s longing and laughs, we experience Nora finding out who she is, what she truly wants, and where she wants to be in her life. We hang there with her during the film not really knowing what is to happen, only feeling her angst, disappointments, her wonder, and excitement as she traverses through these hard lesson and grows as a woman from them.
For this reason, I see Broken English being more than the average romantic comedy. It is more than a cliché? of girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, etc. The story line, the performance of Parker Posey, and the search we see Nora do inside of herself and beyond her personal issues make this a film one that I highly recommend. Afterwards, I?m sure you?ll agree there was no room for disappointment and Broken English is a ducky DVD.
Rating: PG-13; Original language: English, French; Subtitled in: Spanish; Running time: 98 minutes

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