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Review: British Urban Melodrama 'Broken Lines' With Paul Bettany Falters, Fails To Convince

  • By Sam Price
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  • September 26, 2011 3:11 AM
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There’s a familiar, some would say endless, argument about the British film industry: that the films it produces are essentially afraid of tackling the present and pressing contemporary issues. British directors, or at least the companies that finance their films, have rarely tried to engage with the shock of the now, and instead remain happy to retreat into a comfortable, mindless and nostalgic past that probably never existed in the first place. The recent riots that rocked the capital, for instance, or the fall-out from the News International hacking scandal are subjects less likely to be turned into a feature film than, say, something like “Notting Hill 2,” or any another mythological and monocultural representation of London or -- God forbid -- one of the country's other major cities. Occasionally someone comes along with a stick and pokes the ruling classes in the eye (think “The Shooting Party” or “Gosford Park”) but screenplays penned by Julian Fellowes can hardly be considered the stuff of breath-taking dynamism. When the Brits aren’t churning out benign pictures about a benign royal dynasty (hello, “The Queen” and “The King’s Speech”) or enlisting scads of former theatre directors (Richard Eyre, Stephen Daldry, Nicolas Hytner, Sam Mendes) to blandly recreate their deferential attitude towards bland material, they make shockingly poor gangster pictures that would make even a hack like Guy Ritchie blush.

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