Growing up too fast, too soon.
First-time director Rufus Norris oversees the conscious British drama Broken starring Tim Roth as Archie, a single father who must carefully navigate his parental responsibilities with his daughter Skunk (newcomer Eloise Laurence) after she witnessed an emotionally brutal neighborhood assault of one of her neighbors in a claustrophobic North London cul-de-sac. Skunk copes with being bullied at school and home by her friends or–she even has to deal with the reality that her mother will never come back again. Meanwhile, her father is trying to deal with their menacing next door neighbor Bob Oswald (Rory Kinnear) and his three ungovernable daughters.
Rick Buckley (Robert Emms) is the unfortunate scapegoat to Mr. Oswald’s brutal fury–mostly brought on by his deceptive and manipulative tales his daughters can conjure. You would think that Archie will move his family out of such a destructive neighborhood–he doesn’t. Instead, he becomes the neighborhood mediator trying to mend these fragile relationships. Meanwhile, Skunk is comfortably crushing on her teacher Mike Kiernan (Cillian Murphy), who has a difficult decision of his own to make–deciding whether or not he wants to be in a long-term relationship with Kasia (Zana Marjanovic), a live-in friend of the family.
In this tumultuous film drama based on the novel by Daniel, Clay renders as a complicated emotional crisis where neither character succeeds in making good choices. It is during these strained events the story misplaces its underlying importance where an overwhelmingly caring father is trying to do the best he can to parent and protect his diabetic and precocious tween daughter. In the last act, the film runs together and eventually blurs the story into a heavily laden drama where each of the unresolved conflicts “resolved” rather unconvincingly.