Combustible Celluloid
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With: Parker Posey, Drea de Matteo, Tim Guinee, Gena Rowlands, Peter Bogdanovich, Roy Thinnes, Michael Panes, Justin Theroux, Melvil Poupaud, Dana Ivey, William Wise, Josh Hamilton, Caitlin Keats, Russell Steinberg, Santo Fazio, Michael Kelly
Written by: Zoe R. Cassavetes
Directed by: Zoe R. Cassavetes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual content, brief drug use and language
Running Time: 96
Date: 01/01/2007

Broken English (2007)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Paris Nexus

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The third of John Cassavetes' children, Zoe Cassavetes, makes her feature directorial debut with this film. However, unlike her brother Nick (The Notebook, Alpha Dog) and her sister Xan (Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession), Zoe attempts to walk in her father's massive footsteps, crafting a realistically messy story of a relationship. Nora (Parker Posey) can't seem to find a man, and this lack begins to rule her life. Her best friend (Drea de Matteo) and her mother (Gena Rowlands, Zoe's real-life mother), have all kinds of good advice. Nora meets Julian (Melvil Poupaud) at a party, and though he doesn't exactly light her fire at first, he's very persistent and they wind up spending several days together. The younger Cassavetes deliberately leaves out the romantic spark and the meet-cute that permeate so many other romantic comedies, but she subscribes to many other staples of the genre (such as too many pop music montages). Ultimately, the film is proof that there was only one John Cassavetes, and that it's not as easy to escape clich├ęs as he once made it look. Peter Bogdanovich, who plays Nora's stepdad, was a friend of the senior Cassavetes and reportedly helped out a bit on the great film Love Streams (1984). Broken English screened as part of the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival.

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