This Movie Is Broken
Directed by Bruce McDonald
Whether or not Bruce McDonald’s experiments in filmmaking are always successful, his passion and continued desire to push the limits of the medium in both form and content are well worth the continued admiration he has earned as an artist unwilling to be complacent. His newest film, This Movie is Broken, is a quasi-docudrama concert film featuring Broken Social Scene with a low-key (and fictionalized) romantic subplot thrown in for good measure. Always one with a great aptitude for music, McDonald (and the equally iconic Don McKellar, who pens the script) taps into the central mood and ideology that drives BSS and paralleled these ideas with the character’s ever evolving relationships.
Unfortunately, with so much time devoted to the on stage interactions between the various members of Broken Social Scene, the off-stage story is woefully underdeveloped. Lacking in both chemistry and conviction, the three central characters feel like cardboard cut-outs – they are not unlike the characters one finds in literal and generic music videos for popular love songs. This is especially frustrating in a film of this caliber due to how incredibly well the suggestions about the malleability of friendship are exposed in the concert scenes. The sense of romance and affection presented by the music of Broken Social Scene highlights theunfortunate linearity and shallow growth that the central characters experience.
Though an ultimately unsatisfying film experience, the scenes of the various members of Broken Social Scene interacting with each other and the audience are well worth the price of admission. McDonald shoots them affectionately, revealing not only the compulsive strength of their combined musical talents, but also the minute detailing of their dynamic. Though mostly insincere, the central narrative about the changing face of a circle of relationship is not without its moments, especially taken in context of the ideas being presented by the accompanied music. At the very least, the romance is not cloying, as it is well aware of the awkward constructs it is embodying. Unfortunately, with little room to breathe, interesting thematic threads are left largely unexplored. The film, however, is still worth recommending to fans of music, whether or not you are familiar with the workings of Broken Social Scene, McKellar sheds an impassioned light on one of music’s most interesting contemporary musical acts.
– Justine Smith