Tim Roth, with Eloise Laurence, in Broken

BROKEN, directed by Rufus Norris, is an excellent British film about three middle class families with varying levels of misfortune and dysfunction. It is seen through the eyes of Skunk, the young daughter in the Cunningham family. The film opens with Skunk (Eloise Laurence) cheerfully talking to her mildly retarded neighbour, Rick Buckley, played by Robert Emms, as he washes a car, just before he is attacked by Bob Oswald (Rory Kinnear), the widowed father of three slaggy girls, one of who has falsely accused Rick of raping her.

The film is in Mike Leigh territory as it examines the flaws in modern British society. The core problem is seen as a lack of respect for fellow people. Wider issues considered are under age sex, bullying, teen smoking and drinking, and the lack of support for the mentally ill. The disintegration of families through death, infidelity and selfishness is neatly woven into the plot.

Eloise Laurence’s performance as Skunk is quite wonderful and we hope that she triumphs in the end over her trials, misfortunes and in her relationships. Other characters in the film see that Skunk has special qualities and a strong personality that deserves a rich and fulfilling life, and the audience is taken along with these notions.

There are excellent performances from a strong cast. Tim Roth is great as Skunk’s father and suburban solicitor Archie Cunningham. The Cunningham’s live-in housekeeper Kasia (Zana Marjanovic) and her love interest Mike (Cillian Murphy) are two more of several good performances.

Rufus Norris has a theatre background but has made a very cinematic film with clever use of flashbacks and jumping ahead in the plot that leaves the audience to make its own decisions as events unfold in the film. “Broken” is based on Daniel Clay’s book which itself pays homage to “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

As if she hasn’t displayed enough talent the young Eloise Laurence sings two of the songs on the soundtrack.

 I recommend BROKEN.