The Broken Circle Breakdown

Felix Van Groeningen, who directed the dark comedies Steve + Sky (2004) and The Misfortunates (2009), switches gears to deliver a sincere, old-fashioned melodrama, complete with musical numbers. A tattoo artist in working-class Flanders falls in love with the lead singer of a revivalist bluegrass band; they live blissfully for several years, until their young daughter is diagnosed with terminal cancer and their relationship frays. Like Nicolas Roeg’s Bad Timing (1980), this jumps between the lovers’ courtship, struggle, and dissolution; instead of making the familiar story line feel unpredictable, however, this cut-up approach gives way to a different kind of pattern. The movie swings like a pendulum between elation and despair, with little time devoted to anything in between. In English and subtitled Flemish dialect.