Indie Gems: The Broken Circle Breakdown

Love. Hardship. Bluegrass?

Set in Belgium, Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) is a banjo player in a blue grass band that falls for a tattoo artist named Elise. (Veerle Baetens) They're so different, but he takes to her free spirit and she takes to singing in his band. Eventually they have a daughter, Maybelle (Nell Cattrysse) who develops, and later dies of cancer at only 6 years old. This drives Didier and Elise further apart and their conflicting beliefs on faith do nothing to help.

It's interesting to see American bluegrass in a film from Belgium. Heldenbergh also wrote the story, which was originally a play. It got lukewarm reviews when it first came out a few years ago, so my expectations were fairly low, but I was surprised despite it's flaws how much I enjoyed it.

Heldenberg and Baetens have excellent chemistry, so it makes it that much harder when life starts driving them apart. The story is told in fragments, frequently jumping around in the narrative. I think that style works for a film like this, but I think they should've tweaked the order. It's easy enough to follow where we are in our time line until the end. While Faith is in the film's synopsis, it doesn't play a huge role like I expected. At one point Dieder goes on this cringe worthy George W. Bush ran about stem cell research that feel so wildly out of place.

It's not a perfect film, but I liked the story even though it's overwhelmingly sad at times.

Grade: B-

Memorable quote: "Since you won't get a tattoo..." - Elise (Veerle Baetens)


  1. ILOVE this one even though it's gutting.

    1. I'm glad someone else does! It's so sad, but I'm so glad I watched it.

  2. Nice review Brittani. Not many people have seen this, but I wish they did. Even if it is very sad.

    1. I hope more people do too. Even the year it was Oscar nominated, it felt like it didn't get a lot of buzz.


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