The Broken Circle Breakdown 3.0 stars

“He's a romantic atheist, she's a religious realist.” How’s that for an incentive-filled tagline? Working from a play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, the last thing Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen and writing partner Carl Joos wanted was to transform the story of a bluegrass singer (Johan Heldenbergh) and his excessively-inked cowgirl wife (Veerle Baetens) dealing with the loss of their child into a disease-of-the-week sudser. On the surface, it presents everything I’ve come to detest in movies — issues of childhood mortality, the subsequent grieving process, a dead animal motif, and a lengthy third act sermon, this one on the virtues of stem cell research. But when wrapped in song, sans the pretty pink bow of sentimentality, the result is a compelling, intensely moving musical melodrama that will leave you feeling encouraged, not bereaved. With Nell Cattrysse and George W. Bush as himself. 2012.

Scott Marks

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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