Zoe R. Cassavetes
USA / France / Japan
It is that rare romantic comedy in which women can actually see themselves. Most of them are either popcorn fantasies or ridiculously reductive, strictly Hollywood constructs that never come completely alive. That is happily not the case with Broken English, Zoe Cassavetes' witty feature debut that smartly outlines the dilemma of the heart facing one lonely Manhattan single, a character who is only too real in her romantic fumbling.
Cast against type, the so often brash Parker Posey plays Nora Wilder, the head of customer relations at a chic boutique hotel. She has spent so many years seeing to the needs of others that she has neglected her own and now in her mid-30s, she finds herself, frozen smile in place, at the five-year anniversary party of her best friends Audrey (Drea De Matteo) and Mark (Tim Guinee). Her blunt mother (Cassavetes' own mom Gena Rowlands) is on hand to remind her that she could have had Mark and that she had better get cracking if she ever expects to find a husband.
It sounds like a simple enough instruction and while Nora's neurotic, she is pretty and pleasant. But her judgment is faulty, leading to an unfortunate liaison with a hotel guest, actor Nick Gable (Justin Theroux), whose ludicrous patter and misguided Mohawk ought to have served as big red warning signs to steer clear.
Theatrical Release: January 2007 - Sundance Film Festival
DVD Review: Magnolia - Region 0 - NTSC
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|Distribution||Magnolia - Region 0 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 5.55 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
Definition (films) - Broken English episode (27:52)
The Magnolia disc is dual-layered but is interlaced (see last capture) so the transfer is best suited to CRT (cathode ray tubes - aka tube TVs) as higher systems will notice the combing in every third frame with motion. I'm unsure that this is a function of DV shooting but if it was, for a price, it could have been bumped to superior before putting to digital disc (IMdb states that it was shot on DV but the print format was 35mm). Other than that glitch the image looks quite clean and colors seem to be represented well. Detail is acceptable as is the 2.0 channel audio (I didn't fully test the unnecessary 5.1 offered) and there are only optional Spanish subtitles.
There are some supplements. A half hour Broken English episode (proposed for HDNet?), a featurette - The Making of Broken English for about 1/4 of an hour and 16 minutes of deleted scenes. It was nice that the Making of... had relevance to the film and the attempt at viable extras was appreciated even if it fell short. An absent director commentary would have been a true selling point for this DVD. But anyway.
This film is Zoe Cassavetes' directorial debut - she is the daughter of actor-director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands. It is hard to know where the infusion of a formulaic story was impressed upon the production but it all seems to suggest that producers may had a hand in this. I wouldn't categorize this as a poor film and certainly don't dismiss Zoe or her first effort - the jury is still out - but I'll bet learning how to skirt the foibles of the system to gain full control will benefit her greatly in the future. This will not be part of her namesakes eventual legacy that's for sure - still it was entertaining and uniquely poignant at times. I saw a glimmer or two. I will watch her next effort with a keen eye.