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.