Review: ‘Broken Lines’

Lugubrious meller, concerning a successful real-estate developer coming to terms with his Jewish working-class roots after the death of his tailor father, wallows in self-important bathos.

Lugubrious meller, concerning a successful real-estate developer coming to terms with his Jewish working-class roots after the death of his tailor father, wallows in self-important bathos. Taking its uptight central character way too seriously — even if lead actor Dan Fredenburgh did co-write the script — pic slowly weans him from his cool, upper-class shiksa fiancee (Olivia Williams) via an affair with a warm, earthy Jewish waitress (co-scribe Doraly Rosa). Meanwhile, Paul Bettany as the waitress’s crippled boxer b.f. chews up the scenery. Pic looks unlikely to cross the pond.

Pic’s gloom and humorlessness trump Jean-Louis Bompoint’s sulfurous lensing and strong perfs by Rosa and Rita Tushingham (as Rosa’s aunt). TV-helmer Sallie Aprahamian relies heavily on East End London locations, particularly a memory-haunted tailor shop with dummies, top hats and half-sewn suits, to add depth to the script’s timeworn trope of a man caught between two women repping plebian authenticity vs. haut bourgeois ambition. Without any overarching aesthetic, pic’s leaden dialogue and stereotypic characterizations translate hero’s cultural reconnection as a merely opportunistic, revitalizing dip in ye olde ethnic gene pool.

Broken Lines

U.K.

Production

An Axiom Films/Cinema Two presentation in association with Matador Pictures/Regent Capital/Met Film/Aria Films of an Axiom Films production. (International sales: Maximum Films, Toronto.) Produced by Douglas Cummins. Co-producer, Carlo Dusi. Directed by Sallie Aprahamian. Screenplay, Dan Fredenburgh, Doraly Rosa.

Crew

Camera (color), Jean-Louis Bompoint; editor, Brand Thumum; music, Laura Rossi. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 27, 2008. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Doraly Rosa, Dan Fredenburgh, Paul Bettany, Olivia Williams, Rita Tushingham, Nathan Constance.
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