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This Movie Is Broken (2010)

by on 2013/02/02

This Movie Is Broken (2010)

“So now I’m feeling like shit, but I appreciate the effort.”

* *

I desperately wanted to enjoy this film, This Movie Is Broken.

I’m tempted to write “Yes it is” . . . simply leave it at that, and move on to other things. Doing so would be facetious and hardly illustrative though.

Perhaps I’m just profoundly disappointed. I came for Don McKellar’s script, expecting a fuller narrative. Instead, this experience was more like the pilot for a slightly edgy sitcom, constantly interrupted by performance art.

Set during a midsummer garbage strike in the city of Toronto, we are introduced to slacker Bruno (Greg Calderone of Trigger) and foreign student Caroline (Georgina Reilly of Pontypool), who awaken on a rooftop beside each other. She’s due to return to France within a day, so irrationally smitten Bruno spends their remaining time pestering her to stay. He scrounges tickets and backstage passes to see her favourite band, Broken Social Scene, playing at Harbourfront Centre that very night.

For all intents and purposes, we then sit through a concert. Except that some extra songs are scattered elsewhere along the way. Structurally, it’s rather like Depeche Mode’s 101, without an awareness the fans we’re seeing are not (fictional) characters. If they were real, we might feel compelled to give the protagonist a shake, and tell him, “Let her go, she isn’t worth it, and you’re being a goof.”

Without spoiling details, I will admit the last fifteen minutes are good, but still not worth suffering through the first 73.

Unless, that is, you’re a big fan of Broken Social Scene. They’re the real draw here, at least theoretically. For my part, I went in slightly ambivalent. To be clear, if there’s anything I love more than Canadian movies, it’s Canadian music, but I’ve never paid close attention to BSS. Early on I tried to get into them, but too many things turned me off, stylistically speaking.

I counted fourteen band members onstage at one point. And six more were listed in the credits! Midway through what I would call a masturbatory solo, I wondered: how does a band like this succeed in a world where Spinal Tap’s free-form “Jazz Odyssey” is the punchline of a joke? No effort to immerse myself could conquer my intolerance. I wanted to skip right past the songs and get the story over with. (I didn’t, which is probably why I’m cranky about it now.)

Even interpersonal scenes were given over in service to songs, shot and edited to hallucinatory effect. I kept waiting for some new insight to strike me and soon realized it was never coming; this was all there was, and there was only more of the same to come. Having accepted that conclusion, I focused on director Bruce McDonald’s visuals, abstract but attractive, especially compared to the grit of his Pontypool basement.

I still wouldn’t recommend it overall but, admittedly, there were some cool moments, including brief appearances by Jason Collett (Everything’s Gone Green), Leslie Feist (A Colbert Christmas), Emily Haines of Metric (Scott Pilgrim), Stephen McHattie (A Little Bit Zombie), and Tracy Wright (When Night Is Falling).

Otherwise, you’d really better enjoy the “baroque pop” stylings of Broken Social Scene. Even if I did, I suspect I’d dislike a fiction breaking up their show. I imagine – to borrow from the Alexander Keith’s slogan – those who do like This Movie Is Broken probably like it a lot. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

* *

Trailer (offsite):

Rated 14A

88 minutes

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