Thursday, February 03, 2011

This Movie Is Broken So Who’s Going to Fix It?

This Movie Is Broken

If you are a film lover who grew up in Canada then the name Bruce McDonald is as iconic as the names David Cronenberg, Guy Maddin, Allen King and Atom Egoyan. McDonald’s films, such as Hard Core Logo and Pontypool, have garnered worldwide attention and changed how others view Canadian cinema. If you happened to grow up in Toronto, like myself, and listened to a wide range of music then you would know of the band Broken Social Scene. As far as music goes, Broken Social Scene is to the Toronto music scene as the Maple Leafs are to the world of hockey…you cannot think of one without the other. So the idea of Bruce McDonald making a concert film around Broken Social Scene is music to my ears.

Set during the Toronto garbage strike of 2009, This Movie Is Broken is both a concert film and love story. Bruno (Greg Calderone) has had a crush on Caroline (Georgina Reilly) for 15 years. Caroline and Bruno only have two days to spend together before she returns to Paris. Bruno is hoping to turn their friendship into something more, while Caroline just wants to have fun. On her last night in Toronto, Caroline wants to see her favourite band, Broken Social Scene, who are performing a free outdoor concert. Bruno, with the help of his friend Blake (Kerr Hewitt), is determined to get Caroline backstage passes to the show. Bruno see this night as his last chance to win Caroline’s heart for good.

This Movie Is Broken follows a similar form to Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs, the major difference being the lack sexual intensity. McDonald continuously alternates between the couple’s moments together and footage of Broken Social Scene performing on stage. While 9 Songs is the most obvious comparison, there are also scenes that remind me of the film Chasing Amy as well. Greg Calderone not only sounds like Ben Affleck did in Amy, but the scene in which he finally professes his love for Caroline is very similar.

Regardless of the similarities, This Movie Is Broken still manages to find its own voice. Bruce McDonald finds a way to capture Toronto’s urban beauty even when a garbage strike is on and the city is at its worst. McDonald also does a good job of providing a sense of what a Broken Social Scene concert is like in Toronto, in fact, it brought back fond memories of when I saw the band perform at same venue a few years earlier. I also liked the song selection that McDonald used in the film, not only does he cover material from the band’s four albums, but he also includes the band performing some of its members solo works as well (i.e. Feist’s “I Feel It All” and Jason Collett’s “I Bring the Sun”). One of the fascinating things about Broken Social Scene is that they even find time to record albums or tour together. The collective group of musicians all have their own equally successful side projects.

It would have been nice if three main characters could have been fleshed out a little more. The script, written by actor/writer Don McKellar, provides just enough to make the premise believable. Still, as concert films go, This Movie Is Broken is a film that should appeal to a wide range of people. It serves as a nice introduction to Broke Social Scene for those who do not know the band. If you are like me and were already a big fan of the band, then This Movie Is Broken will serve as a pleasant reminder of all the things you love about the group.


  1. Come on, a list of iconic movie personality and Don Mckellar gets left out. For shame sir. I'm going to watch this on TMN next week because I watch all Bruce McDonald movies even though I only like about half of them.

  2. @Mike - I was thinking more of iconic Canadian movie directors. Despite the greatness that is Last Night, I still see McKellar as more of an actor/writer than as a director. His second directorial film, Childstar, was alright but not as strong as Last Night. If I was to do a list of iconic actors, or just Canadians in general, McKellar would be near the top of the list for sure.


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