By Laura Walkinshaw – Paul Bettany steals the show in this romantic tragedy about love, obligation and conflict, set in north London.
By Laura Walkinshaw
Paul Bettany steals the show in this romantic tragedy about love, obligation and conflict, set in north London.
But before you go along expecting a feel-good film, note that this is a tragic and quite depressing tale.
When newly engaged Jake (Dan Fredenburgh), a successful property developer, loses his father suddenly, he distances himself from his fiancée Zoe (Olivia Williams) and their wealthy lifestyle, and retreats into his humble beginnings in London’s Finsbury Park. Jake starts spending night after night at his father’s tailor shop, overwrought with anger for his mother’s past infidelity, which he believes was to blame for his father’s unhappiness, and becomes completely disinterested in his impending wedding.
Then, at a café around the corner, Jake meets Becca or B (Doraly Rosa), a waitress and the girlfriend of Chester (Paul Bettany), an ex-boxer who is semi-paralysed after suffering a stroke and now needs constant care and attention. Like Jake, B is unhappy about where her life is heading. She once wanted to be a musician – like Jake wanted to be an artist – but instead, she has given up on her dreams, and although she loves Chester very much, his condition – and lack of determination to overcome his paralysis – makes their life together very difficult. Soon, Jake and B embark on a dramatic love affair – each of them consumed by the newfound freedom they feel when they are together, an escape from the responsibilities they face in reality.
Jake is drawn to B who shows him how happy he could be if he wasn’t with Zoe, and B – despite being overcome with guilt for the feelings she has for Jake – also sees how different her life could be without the obligation of caring for Chester. But Jake and B can’t pretend forever and must return to their lives and decide if they are willing to make a break in favour of a happier life.
Paul Bettany’s portrayal of Chester, and his struggle to come to terms with his life after suffering from a stroke, is often hard to watch but brilliant and believable. The role of B is also well acted by Doraly Rosa and viewers’ sympathise with the horrible situation she and Chester find themselves in.
But, in contrast, Broken Lines is let down by the characters of Jake and Zoe. Because we see so little of their relationship in comparison to B and Chester’s, it is hard to gain any understanding and relate to it as it seems so cold and emotionless. Olivia Williams’s most emotional scene in the film is when she bursts into tears.
Jake, in particular, comes across as very selfish and boring, and it’s difficult to understand why he and B get together other than out of sheer desperation as there is no connection between them.
However, the film’s biggest downfall is probably how outdated it seems. True enough, it was filmed in 2008 but everything about it screams 90s, miserable and gritty.