Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Broken Circle Breakdown

I've been wanting to see the Belgian movie The Broken Circle Breakdown. Not because it's got a nod for best foreign film for the academies. But because one of its main themes and its musical backbone is bluegrass, music I love. It was playing, as they say, at a theatre near me. But my plans to see it kept getting thwarted. Maybe unconsciously because its basic story line has a little girl of six with cancer, a subject that puts me away.

I glanced at a few reviews: most reviewers said seeing it was hard going.

I couldn't find anyone who was able to or wanted to go with me: "Belgian bluegrass musicians, a little kid with cancer? I don't think so."

Anyway this morning, 2, 1, 14, I drove myself through a growing snow storm to the other side of the city to a funky little independent movie house for a noon showing, The Kingsway, where the cashier was nice enough, or oblivious enough, to think I was under sixty. I told her the bitter truth and went upstairs to "Screening Room E," about the size of my basement, where a small six of us watched it on an undersized dull screen, the film quality just a cut above home movies.

I fell apart watching it, crying through a lot of it. I almost never cry, not being set up that way. The sadness is as rending as the music is glorious. The acting is wonderfully natural. And the movie visits the most profound questions about life and death and how we try to deal with shattering loss. It shows bluegrass in one way as an art of the attempt at getting a calming and comforting grip.

I was dying to talk to one of my six fellow watchers about it all after but that didn't come about.

I don't want to say much more, give any more away, or put any knocks against the film. It should be seen, I think, not knowing all that much about what happens. But I'd love to kick it around with someone.

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