The oddest childhoods make for the grandest stories, and Skunk has plenty to tell as she grows up in a small English cul-de-sac full of magnificent characters. Armed with a nice soundtrack and some really stunning but simple shots, Broken follows Skunk (Eloise Lawrence) through her pre-teen years, as she comes to understand the not-so-innocent reality of life itself. Dependence becomes freedom, but at what cost?
The film does a really great job of capturing the little things that stand out in her childhood – the things that seem like an average aspect of day-to-day life but are actually really ridiculous – like the twins who follow kids home from school and try to hit them with rotten fruit (but never quite can). Skunk is extremely close to her father (Tim Roth), who is both an official psychiatrist with an office and the unofficial one in his own home and neighborhood. He and his daughter have the kind of lasting relationship that is sure to be attacked with harsh arguments during her teenage years, but that will survive those troubling times and come out stronger than ever.
Broken also captures the possibility for things to go very wrong very quickly, and exposes the sudden dramatic turns life can take. In a split second, everything can change and become different forever. Despite her eleven years, Skunk has witnessed this. She, like most pre-teen girls, is exposed to mind-blowing secrets of life on a daily basis. She sees the ugly and the beautiful side of people, but rather than judging them, she asks questions. She’s curious, honest, and friendly – which can either lead to an amazing learning opportunity for every party involved, or to a dark and dangerous situation.
Ignorance truly can be blissful, and secrets can hurt, even when you don’t know them. Skunk comes to terms with the changes in her life with questions and a determinate attitude. She’s not necessarily precocious, as she enjoys children’s games and thinks like a child, but she grows up very much a part of the adult world in which she lives, and has become somewhat crude as a result. She’s still at the stage where relationships are as simple as answering a yes or no question, and kisses are strategic, planned parts of the equation (but still nice). Lawrence is a breakout star and gives an entrancing portrayal of Skunk.
Overall, the film has a very peaceful tone. The beautiful cinematography is relaxing to look at and draws the viewer in. At times, Broken is almost lyrical, and it seems like the movie itself is singing. It manages to remain light despite the flaring tempers, assumptions gone wrong, and unrest everywhere within the three households in the cul-de-sac, perhaps a metaphor for the way everything in life has a silver lining when one is an innocent child.
Available now on DVD from Film Movement.