Felix van Groeningen's The Broken Circle Breakdown - nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar - is a remarkably edited film whose flashbacks blend seamlessly into the present.
A Belgian story about love and grief, the movie is a tearjerker all right, but the emotional scenes do add to the dramatic element in what could have otherwise been a flat non-linear narrative. Also, it is this structure that helps the characters appear fleshed out.
The film opens in a hospital with a young couple, Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) and Elise (Veerle Baetens), facing the tragic truth about their six-year-old daughter, Maybelle (Nell Cattrysse), who is suffering from a terminal illness.
And then we travel back in time. Seven years before this, he, bearded and cowboyish looking, is part of a bluegrass band and she is a blonde with a liberal sprinkling of tattoos on her. Their relationship gets sexual and intense, and Didier embraces the new reality of the kid coming into their little circle - whose outer ring includes members of the band.
There is plenty of music in the movie but it blends beautifully with the structure (unlike in most Indian films where songs stick out). Yes, there are a couple of clichés -- the way he proposes to her on the stage with his band playing is one.
In the end, the movie is pleasing and told with ease in just 109 minutes.