The Broken Circle Breakdown

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Broken Circle Breakdown
The Broken Circle Breakdown.jpg
Film poster
Directed byFelix van Groeningen
Screenplay byCarl Joos
Felix van Groeningen
Based onThe Broken Circle Breakdown
by Johan Heldenbergh
Mieke Dobbels
Produced byDirk Impens
Frans van Gestel
Laurette Schillings
Arnold Heslenfeld
StarringJohan Heldenbergh
Veerle Baetens
CinematographyRuben Impens
Edited byNico Leunen
Music byBjorn Eriksson
Topkapi Films
Distributed byKinepolis Film Distribution
Release date
  • 10 October 2012 (2012-10-10)
Running time
111 minutes
Box office$6 million[1]

The Broken Circle Breakdown (also known as Alabama Monroe) is a 2012 Belgian drama film directed by Felix van Groeningen with a screenplay by Carl Joos and van Groeningen. It is based on the stage play of the same name by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels.

The film garnered critical acclaim and was selected as the Belgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards,[2] and was on the nominated shortlist.[3] The film was the winner of Best Foreign Film at the 39th César Awards.[4] It was the winner of the 2013 Lux Prize.[5]


The film is set in Ghent, in the Flemish Region of Belgium, and chronicles the lives of Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (Veerle Baetens) over seven years as they fall in love through their passion for bluegrass music. Didier meets Elise in her tattoo parlour and invites her to the performance of his Bluegrass band. They soon fall in love. When Didier discovers Elise has a wonderful voice, she joins their band as a singer. After a few months, Elise discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant. Even though it comes as a shock at first, the couple is happy. Their daughter Maybelle is born and for a few years, they live a happy life and have success with their band.

After her sixth birthday, Maybelle develops cancer and her health quickly deteriorates. She succumbs to it within a year. The death of Maybelle has a devastating effect on Didier and Elise's relationship and their lives. Didier focuses on scientism, especially after George W. Bush opposes embryonic stem cell research under pressure of creationists and the anti-abortion movement. Elise finds solace in spiritualism and reincarnation. The two grow further and further apart until Elise attempts suicide. She is rushed to the hospital but she is found braindead. Didier agrees to stop the artificial respiration. Finally the band plays a song around Elise's deathbed.


  • Johan Heldenbergh as Didier Bontinck / Monroe
  • Veerle Baetens as Elise Vandevelde / Alabama
  • Nell Cattrysse as Maybelle
  • Geert Van Rampelberg as William
  • Nils De Caster as Jock
  • Robbie Cleiren as Jimmy
  • Bert Huysentruyt as Jef
  • Jan Bijvoet as Koen
  • Blanka Heirman as Denise


The film was shot from 18 July to 8 September 2011 in Belgium.[6]


The bluegrass soundtrack includes traditional songs [7] as well as music composed for the film by Bjorn Eriksson.[8] All the music in the band scenes is performed by the actors.[8]

  1. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" See also "Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By)"
  2. "The Boy Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn" by Alison Krauss, Pat Brayer, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, Barry Bales, and Ron Block
  3. "Dusty Mixed Feelings"
  4. "Wayfaring Stranger"
  5. "Rueben's Train"
  6. "Country In My Genes"
  7. "Further On Up The Road"
  8. "Where Are You Heading, Tumbleweed?"
  9. "Over In The Gloryland"
  10. "Cowboy Man"
  11. "If I Needed You"
  12. "Carved Tree Inn"
  13. "Sandmountain"
  14. "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us"
  15. "Blackberry Blossom"


Critical response[edit]

The Broken Circle Breakdown has an approval rating of 83% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 103 reviews, and an average rating of 7.30/10. The website's critical consensus states, "The Broken Circle Breakdown's reach occasionally exceeds its grasp, but overall, it's an intoxicating, finely wrought romance -- and one with a terrific soundtrack to boot".[9] It also has a score of 70 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Boyd van Hoeij of Variety wrote: "Sophisticated cutting brings out the story’s complex emotional undercurrents, though “Breakdown’s” less convincingly scripted second half sputters more often than it shines."[11] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "The non-linear structure works extremely well, making the drama a bracing emotional roller coaster of feel-good/feel-bad turns."[12]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards[3] Best Foreign Language Film Belgium Nominated
César Awards[4] Best Foreign Film The Broken Circle Breakdown Won
Denver Film Critics Society[13] Best Foreign Language Film The Broken Circle Breakdown Nominated
European Film Awards[14][15] European Film The Broken Circle Breakdown Nominated
European Director Felix Van Groeningen Nominated
European Actress Veerle Baetens Won
European Actor Johan Heldenbergh Nominated
European Screenwriter Carl Joos, Felix van Groeningen Nominated
People's Choice Award for Best European Film The Broken Circle Breakdown Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society[16] Best Foreign Language Film The Broken Circle Breakdown Nominated
Best Original Score Bjorn Eriksson Nominated
Satellite Awards[citation needed] Best Foreign Language Film The Broken Circle Breakdown Won
Tribeca Film Festival[17] Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film Veerle Baetens Won
Best Screenplay for a Narrative Feature Film Carl Joos, Felix Van Groeningen Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[18] Best Foreign Language Film The Broken Circle Breakdown Won
Lux Prize[19] - The Broken Circle Breakdown Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Broken Circle Breakdown (2013)". JPBox-Office (in French). Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  2. ^ "Oscars: Belgium Nominates 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' for Foreign Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Oscars: Main nominations 2014". BBC News. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b "France's Cesar Awards: 'Me, Myself and Mum' Wins Best Film". Hollywood Reporter. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  5. ^ "LUX Prize 2013". European Parliament. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Pressbook - The Broken Circle Breakdown.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  7. ^ "The Broken Circle Breakdown(2012) Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b "The Broken Circle Breakdown highlights Belgian bluegrass". Bluegrass Today. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  9. ^ "The Broken Circle Breakdown". Rotten Tomatoes.
  10. ^ "The Broken Circle Breakdown". Metacritic.
  11. ^ Hoeij, Boyd van (19 February 2013). "The Broken Circle Breakdown". Variety.
  12. ^ Rooney, David (12 February 2013). "The Broken Circle Breakdown: Berlin Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  13. ^ Lodge, Guy (7 January 2014). "2013 Denver Film Critics' Society nominations". HitFix. Hitfix Awards. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  14. ^ "'The Broken Circle Breakdown' Leads European Film Awards Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. PMC. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  16. ^ "San Diego Film Critics Select Top Films for 2013". San Diego Film Critics Society. 11 December 2013. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  17. ^ "HERE ARE YOUR TFF 2013 AWARD WINNERS". Tribeca Film Festival. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  18. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (8 December 2013). "'12 Years a Slave' and 'Her' lead the way with Washington D.C. critics nominations". HitFix. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  19. ^ "The Broken Circle Breakdown wins 2013 LUX Prize". European Parliament. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2018.

External links[edit]