Film Review: BROKE – #MANIFF2016

Broke Film

Hard-hitting, moving and inspiring, BROKE is an intimate tale of redemption, compassion and forgiveness

The topical issue of gambling in the NRL world is thrown into the limelight in Heath Davis’ new debut feature film BROKE, a story of a disgraced sports star and gambling addict who attempts to turn his life around with the support of his number one fan.

The story begins when ageing rail worker Cec, finds his former footy hero turned gambling addict, Ben “BK” Kelly, passed out one evening. The old man named takes pity on the one-time local legend and offers to take him in but BK’s addiction gets the better of him and he robs the low income family of their modest possessions (including dead wife’s urn) in the middle of the night. When Cec agrees to drop the charges and offers him a second chance, BK sets about winning back the respect of his family, friends and community that he has let down and betrayed. But just when it seems BK’s life is about to get back on track, his resolve is put to the biggest test yet.

Hard-hitting, moving and inspiring, BROKE is an intimate tale of redemption, compassion and forgiveness. It takes a hard-hitting look at gambling in the NRL world, an issue currently at the forefront of Australian sport, and aims to support members of the rugby league community who have fallen on hard times by donating its profits to the Men of League Foundation.

The strength of the film lies in the strong performances by the small but talented cast. Steve Le Marquand delivers a believable performance as one-time legend Ben “BK” Kelly who has fallen on hard times. In a move away from his usual ‘strong men’ roles, Le Marquand shows a softer side to his personality in BROKE, with Davis using extreme close-ups and hand-held cameras to hone in on Le Marquand’s face as the character struggles with his inner demons.

Claire van der Boom, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence, shines as Ces’ daughter Terri, the star stuck superfan who cannot quite believe that her idol is staying in her house. Max Cullen is equally good as Ces, the kind older man whose patience and forgiving attitude is the moral backbone of the story.

While BROKE is a moving and inspiring tale of redemption, forgiveness and second chances, the film isn’t without its flaws. The excessive swearing gets a bit too much at time and the extreme close-ups become a distraction. That said, the film is an enjoyable watch and worth a viewing, particularly if you’re a fan of rugby league.

3 out of 5 stars

BROKE makes its UK premiere at 2016 Manchester Film Festival