Film Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

She’s a little wild, a little unpredictable and a tattoo artist. He’s a little rough around the edges and enamored with American country and bluegrass music. They fall madly, hopelessly in love and, before either of them knows it, they’ve got a little girl. It sounds like the start of a wonderful, beautiful romantic film. It could be a drama or it could be a comedy. Unfortunately it’s none of the above. The Belgian film, The Broken Circle Breakdown from writer and director Felix Van Groeningen, is actually a tragic tale that’s heartbreaking.

The family’s magic life comes to a screeching stop when their daughter, Maybelle, is diagnosed with cancer. It’s a diagnosis that touches the family deeply. It has a wide, ripple effect. The film tells the story in two ways. Half of the film is a flashback to how Elise (Veerle Baetens) and Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) met and fell in love. The other half moves forward, showing how the family is dealing with Maybelle’s diagnosis and how it ultimately tears them apart.

The Broken Circle Breakdown won’t be for everyone. It’s sad. So sad that I truly regret watching it. Beautifully shot and acted, sure. But deeply touching and effecting. The Broken Circle Breakdown is simply unforgettable.


In a previous life, Corinne ran a music website. After going strong for a decade, the site went on a hiatus. Consider her the antiTastemaker.