Broken (November 16/07)
Though Broken initially presents itself as an intriguing look at one woman's efforts to break through as a singer/songwriter, the film ultimately morphs into a fairly tedious and thoroughly familiar portrait of drug abuse. This is despite the superb work from stars Heather Graham and Jeremy Sisto, both of whom ably step into the shoes of their relatively underwritten characters (Sisto is, admittedly, essentially playing a variation on his Six Feet Under persona).
The movie, which comes armed with a time-bending structure that's eventually rendered moot by a baffling third-act twist, follows Graham's Hope as she must endure one particularly eventful night at her place of employ (a low-rent diner), after a succession of increasingly quirky customers begin to file into the establishment (including Linda Hamilton's high-class madam, Randall Batinkoff's sleazy movie producer, and Tess Harper's dazed homeless lady).
Screenwriter Drew Pillsbury offers up a series of flashbacks to explain just how Hope wound up working at that diner, and there's little doubt that the movie works best in those scenes - with Graham's surprisingly affecting performance essentially canceling out the extreme familiarity of her character's downward trajectory. Hope becomes a distinctly sympathetic figure that one can't help but root for, and there's consequently little doubt that the scenes within the diner - most of which have been infused with a dreamy, overtly quirky vibe - consequently come off as silly and entirely needless (to be fair, the aforementioned third-act twist kind of explains the off-kilter atmosphere).
The end result is a film that's never quite as consistent as one might've hoped, though first-time director Alan White generally does an effective job of juggling Broken's myriad of wild tonal shifts.