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The Broken Giant

Twenty-seven-year-old Estep Nagy's debut film does no hand-holding of either the expositional or moral sort in telling the tangled, ugly story of Ezra Caton, a young church minister in a back-roads burg. One day a distraught woman, Clio, appears on his doorstep, having fled from a nearby town. The presence of Ezra's beautiful, nearly speechless new housemate angers many, including Ezra's girlfriend and Clio's menacing father. Even at 83 minutes, The Broken Giant is glacially paced; essential details are teased out as the camera inches from one starkly lit interior to another. The film's mournful air, its fearlessness of silence, its sudden explosions of violence— all these recall Malick's best moments (Clio's hometown, incidentally, is called Terrence), culminating in a finale that stuns with its chilling inevitability and resolute moral ambivalence. There are flaws here, no doubt: every performance is affectless, while the movie's speech is needlessly stilted; despite its biblical underpinnings— the film opens with a Book of Job quotation— the story is not a parable, the characters not abstractions. One hopes for a future project whose script will match Nagy's sense of atmospherics.


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