Zoe Cassavetes’s first feature stars Parker Posey as a defeated thirty-something single whose personal velocity has slowed to a crawl. Ground down by tours of duty in the dating wars, Nora’s most lasting accomplishment in the realm of relationships has been to set up her best friend with a secure, trust-funded husband. Without cutesiness, self-dramatizing, or glamorizing, Broken English sees Posey bearing recognizable woes with a credible, affecting humility that redeems material familiar but worse served elsewhere.
Posey is the heart of Broken English, which opens with a melancholy sequence of Nora putting on her best face to go out (to her friend’s anniversary fete, not a date). The film sees the humor in her predicament, too, but through her eyes. And it’s a good thing those eyes are Posey’s, since the film might fall apart and flutter away otherwise. Avoiding recourse to her smart-ass moxie, the actress clears away the clichés by force of normalcy, as Nora falls for a nice but hard-to-read Frenchie whom she first reflexively rejects. Her performance just about makes up for a leap-of-faith ending that is hard to embrace.