Broken [2005/I]

Though made by the daughter of iconoclastic filmmaker John Cassavetes, Broken English is a surprisingly old-fashioned affair. Just as her friend Sofia Coppola wrote about a woman much like herself for Lost in Translation, Zoe Cassavetes has done something similar for her first film (although Before Sunset seems to have exerted a greater influence). Nora (Parker Posey in typically fine form) works in guest relations for a hip New York hotel, just as the writer/director once did. Her best friend, Audrey (Drea de Matteo, The Sopranos), has been married for five years, while Nora remains single. Her mother, Vivien (Gena Rowlands, Zoe's real-life mother), would like to see her settle down. First, Nora goes on a date with self-obsessed actor Nick (a mohawked Justin Theroux), then blind date Charlie (Josh Hamilton). Neither ends well. Nora laments, "Men hate me," but Audrey argues that Nora really hates herself. Her self-confidence gets a boost when she meets Julien (Melvil Poupaud, Fran├žois Ozon's Time to Leave), a chain-smoking, fedora-sporting Frenchman. Just as she starts to falls for him, Julien returns to Paris, so Nora has to decide whether to stay...or to go. Much like the ladies of Sex and the City (on which Theroux guested), she's the kind of character who appears to have it all, but feels worthless if she isn't in a relationship. It isn't a particularly progressive notion--that the right man will solve every problem--but that doesn't mean plenty of women won't be able to relate. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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