The Hartley Family appears to have it all on the outside; they are a seemingly successful American family. However, little do they know that their lives are about to become far more complicated than before. They inadvertently cross paths with William Mwizerwa, a Rwandan refugee who moved from Kenya to America to try to make a new life for his family, whom he had to flee the Rwandan genocide with. These lives also intersect with another Rwandan family who has been forever changed by the genocide. Little do they know that collectively, they will experience both brokenness and God’s redemption after brokenness in ways they never before dreamed.
Production Quality (2 points)
Beautifully Broken is an independent film that has finally come to fruition after being in the works for a while, and it bears some key hallmarks of an indie production. Though the production begins in a fairly rough manner, including wild camera work, weird light filters, and dizzying flashbacks, this is mainly only the first third of the film. It seems like this part of the film was produced separately from the rest of the movie since the remainder of the film has a significant quality increase. This is evident as the camera work, video quality, and audio quality all make marked improvements. The soundtrack is effective and culturally appropriate; however, sometimes sets and locations do not fully live up to the hype. Nevertheless, this production does enough in the latter two-thirds to make this section overall above average. It seems like time was spent to improve this part of the film, and they likely did the best they could with the budget they had. The one drawback is that the editing does not improve throughout the film, but this is is mainly due to the large amount of plot content. As a whole, this is a great first-time production.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
It’s an excellent idea to begin your movie career with a complex true story rather than to use original content, especially since we have a deficit of creative screenwriters in Christian film. However, one of the main pitfalls of using a true story is trying to include too much content. In some ways, it seems like the writing team of Beautifully Broken bit off more than they could chew, but this does not diminish the great message this powerfully true story has to offer. The downside is that there are one too many ‘filler’ scenes that waste precious time; the sheer amount of content in this plot does not allow space to develop the characters as much as they could have been, and narration and expository dialogue is used too often as a shortcut for full character and story development. However, despite its rough beginning and inconsistency in the middle, the final third of the plot are definitely worth the wait, and they keep this section higher than it would have normally been. This writing team definitely has more potential in the future once they master organization and character development.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
It’s possible that the uneven and inconsistent acting is the main thing that derailed Beautifully Broken from a possible Hall of Fame run. While some cast members, like Benjamin Onyango, are very good in their performances, other cast members, like Scott William Winters, cancel out any good that is done. Once again, Onyango is not given the space he needs to fully show his potential as an actor. However, for the most part, emotional performances are believable and effective. Costuming is culturally appropriate, and great efforts were taken to cast culturally authentic cast members. Overall, this rounds out a great first effort.
A lot of work has clearly been put into making Beautifully Broken happen after a fairly long period of time has passed, and the finished product is both better than most films and not as good as it could have been. There is plenty of positive in this film, and it is likely worth your time to see when it releases. There is a great message to learn, and this story is definitely worth being told. In summary, this film is a great start to a promising career, so it will be interesting to see what they have to offer next.
Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points