REVIEW: Broken [2013]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

Rating: NR | Runtime: 24 minutes | Release Date: October 4th, 2013 (USA)
Studio: Turigol productions
Director(s): Mathieu Turi
Writer(s): Mathieu Turi

“Nice shot”

A Frenchman who has been working as an assistant director in Hollywood since 2009, Mathieu Turi is leveraging his experiences into a budding career as an original filmmaker too. His second short entitled Broken is a visually arduous movie that takes place almost entirely inside a stuck elevator trapping two strangers together: English-speaking Spaniard Michael (Iván González) and French-speaking Julie (Isabel Jeannin). It’s a confined space that Turi makes interesting by fading-in to different vantage points—showing them with the door at their backs, in front of the walls, from overhead, or in close. The language barrier forces body language and expressions to become paramount as the two air frustrations through broken small talk while introducing themselves to each other and us.

There’s a lot of detail jammed in to wade through and give reason for a second viewing. We question the laziness of this man who dreams about climbing Mt. Everest yet refuses the stairs to get to his second floor apartment. We wonder who is watching Julie’s young son Peter. And why is Michael shown wearing a wedding ring if this is supposed to be a romance? Will Julie’s asthma cause danger? What about Michael’s inability to keep his mouth shut when a bad joke pops in his head? Does the nervous chitchat they struggle to comprehend stop before they anger each other to the point of disgust even though the awkwardness inherent to this back-and-forth is perfect? After all, we fill the silence of the unknown with whatever is at our disposal too.

Turi also adds clues that shed light on what will become the film’s reveal, making it so a selfish guy arguing on his cellphone and a loner girl lost in her headphones at the start could plausibly engage in a conversation let alone enjoy one. It helps too that there’s a ton of emotion on display once we learn their disparate personalities—his gregariousness and her shy self-pity—as tensions mount and time moves further into their claustrophobic day. Behind everything is a contrived divine fate construction that on second glance may be too much fairytale fantasy for my taste, but it does happen with enough ease and charm to look the other way. The fact the story continues after it comes to a head with a sweetly ambiguous final frame doesn’t hurt either.

Both González and Jeannin do well in trying their best to communicate while also reconciling the futility of the situation they’re in. The forced jokes often fall flat, but intentionally so for an authenticity that goes beyond rom/com cliché. Julie isn’t going to laugh at everything Michael says and Michael isn’t going to win her over with quips she cannot even understand. Only when universal human trouble crops up and self-esteem issues rise to risk making bad circumstances worse do they realize silence plus a look of genuine compassion goes a long way towards earning trust and friendship. Here are two people from different worlds thrust together against their will. The fact they didn’t just ignore each other is more than fodder for romance, it also shows we’re all still human beneath our manufactured, entitled façades.

Leave A Comment