I lose interest in a movie if a bumbling beta attracts a beautiful female (e.g. every Adam Sandler movie ever made). There has to be a chance that the relationship would happen in real life or else I’m watching a science-fiction flick that depicts a parallel universe where the immutable laws of attraction are suspended. This is why I like La Dolce Vita, Gloomy Sunday, When Harry Met Sally, movies by Pedro Almodovar (Broken Embraces, Talk To Her, Volver), and a couple by Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Hannah & Her Sisters, and Annie Hall). A silly movie with cringe worthy dialogue like Before Sunset will get cut off after 10 minutes.
I recently saw Broken English, a movie centered around an American woman named Nora who is panicking because she’s in her 30’s and has no hope of finding a man. Even though her best friend is extremely unhappy in her relationship, Nora becomes desperate to settle down. (Fittingly, she had a chance at her friend’s man years ago but passed on him). Written by a woman, the movie nails a lot of the American female qualities which I have been beating here to death lately:
-slutty but unaffectionate
-neurotic and jittery
-doped up on pharmaceuticals
-unable to control alcohol consumption
-distorted view of the relationship between sex and attraction
Nora reminds me of about 20 girls I’ve dated. She’s played by Parker Posey, your stereotypical pretty American girl (before the obesity epidemic). She’s reasonably cute, someone who you wouldn’t be ashamed walking down the street with. Wrinkles are starting to show on her face, but most men would sleep with her if given the chance (I would). With the right hairstyle and outfit she could be classified as extremely attractive.
As she wonders “What happened?” to the past ten years of her life, so does the viewer. How many guys did she pass on while in her physical prime? How many “actors” did she date until she realized they were no good for her? Why didn’t she take her mother’s advice sooner, who was at least successful enough in love to bear her? The movie doesn’t explore her past, just her current dating mishaps of getting pumped and dumped and going out with a man who has serious baggage. She becomes bitter and jaded, closing off her mind to potential suitors.
Approaching the depths of loneliness, she reluctantly attends a party thrown by a coworker. There she meets an artistic Frenchman who has classic direct game more common with his Spanish and Italian counterparts. American women are taken off-guard by this game at first (Nora calls his approach “intense”), but commonly break down to the persistent charm and affections of these men. (Sorry, a European accent or some otherwise exotic quality is needed to run this particular style of game. Trevor with the striped shirt would be laughed out the bar if he went around telling girls he wanted to kiss them.)
The Frenchman’s direct game is world class, and it doesn’t take him long to dismantle her bitter shield and get right down to business. We would expect a pump and dump in this case, but no—he’s smitten and spontaneously asks her to return to France with him. She says that she can’t because of her oh-so-important event planner job, among other logistical reasons, but we know it’s because she’s deathly afraid of being disappointed yet again.
The film falls apart after that, which is probably why you’ve never heard of it before. It could have been the spinster manifesto up there with Sex and the City, but instead gets tossed into the indie yarn stack behind Chasing Amy. Nonetheless, if you like my blog, you’ll like the movie. The game performance by the Frenchman is alone worth a viewing (note his body language, his devastating use of silence, and his tonality). Completely ignore the fact that in real life a handsome Frenchman wouldn’t fall for an aging spinster who, frankly, was a bitch to him for most of their time together, and enjoy a pretty accurate take on American hook-up culture from a woman’s perspective. It makes me almost feel bad for them.