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The Broken Circle Breakdown and Belgian Beer

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The lovers in Felix van Groeningen'sThe Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium's entry for the Best Foreign Language Picture Oscar, live and love so intensely, you know from the start that something has to give. It was too good to last, says Elise (Veerle Baetens), a tattoo artist as her marriage to Didier (Johan Heldenbergh), a banjo player in a bluegrass band, goes to a place few people ever experience, even in movies. A possible exception may be Derek Gianfrance's Blue Valentine, which also features a beloved child, heated sex, and shall we say, irreconcilable differences. Here the frisson results from tragedy moving irrevocably toward more tragedy. Ranking "Broken Circle" by tissues, it achieves a ten, even when it veers political with a tirade against the American freeze on stem cell research during the W. Bush administration. Which is why, at the end of a special screening this week at The Tribeca Film Center, guests needed a drink. Accompanied by mussels, fries, and individually prepared Belgian waffles, Belgian beer was a must. A specialty of Belgium, each kind -and there are many--has a glass of its own. "Palm," mildly sweet and delicious in a wide mouthed wine glass, offered solace. But even days later, the deeply felt emotion of The Broken Circle Breakdown lingers in the heart.

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