In the 2007 film “Broken English,” Parker Posey plays the kind of character who makes you wish you could climb into the screen and either hug her or slap her. She is Nora Wilder, and if the name seems a little distingué, Nora isn’t. She has a nice little management job in a nice little Manhattan hotel, but she doesn’t have a successful love life. Other thirtiesh women do — or seem to, at least — but when Nora does start dating a man these days, the outcome is never good, what with the other girlfriend and the ex who can’t let go and like that. The situation isn’t made any better by Nora’s mother, Vivien — very well played by Gena Rowlands — a sweetheart for all other purposes who has a clumsy way of reminding Nora of her desperate condition.

Nora does meet one man who doesn’t seem to be dragging around the barnacles that weigh down her usual beaux – a thoughtful Parisian named Julien, played by Melvil Paupaud. Considering her experiences up to this point and the sharp contrast presented by this liaison, her tentative approach to this man is both understandable and frustrating.


Julien returns to Paris, and the action of the movie follows him there, and from that point, you’re on your own.

This movie, which was written and directed by Zoe Cassavetes, got a lot of attention at the Sundance Film Festival, and with good reason. The story is effectively filmed in realistic surroundings in New York and Paris; there’s nothing obvious here. The writer does lean a little heavily on coincidence at one point, but so did Dickens. Cassavetes achieves just the right balance between the oppressive nature of Nora’s dilemma and the comic situations that arise from it.

What with the actors, the characters, the story and the cinematography, this is worth a couple of hours on the couch.





We watched “The Notebook,” a 2004 film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner and Gena Rowlands, and is directed by Rowlands’ son, Nick Cassavetes. The premise is that an elderly man (Garner) living in a nursing home regularly reads to a fellow resident (Rowlands) from a romantic story handwritten in a notebook. Flashbacks that make up the bulk of the movie tell the same story, a romance that began in 1940 in Seabrook, South Carolina, between teenagers Noah Calhoun (Gosling) and Allie Hamilton (McAdams). It becomes clear almost immediately that Garner and Rowlands are the older manifestations of Noah and Allie, and that the older Allie – suffering from dementia – is absorbed in the story but seldom remembers who she and Noah are or that this is the story of their own relationship.




This movie is well cast, well performed, and beautifully filmed and directed. Gosling and McAdams could not be more appealing as the quirky lumber yard worker and the vibrant young socialite. Garner and Rowlands are credible and moving as the aged couple. The only reservation I had was that I couldn’t connect Noah as played by Gosling with Noah as played by Garner. The two men are so dissimilar that it is difficult to make that leap and accept them as the same person. I thought it was particularly ill-advised at a certain point in the film to flash a montage of black-and-white photos of the young Jim Garner, who was nothing at all like Ryan Gosling. Still, the movie as a whole is absorbing and entertaining and avoids the mawkishness into which such a story could easily descend.