The Broken Circle Breakdown Movie Analysis

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According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, grief occurs in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance ( These stages do not necessarily occur in the same order for each person nor may a person suffering loss experience all of the steps, but will work toward “acceptance,” which is considered the final stage. A person who goes through something tragic such as learning they have a terminal illness or losing a loved one may experience at least two of these five stages. Elise and Didier go through a tragic loss with the death of their young daughter in “The Broken Circle Breakdown.” Their cycle in the stages of grief starts as soon as Maybelle is diagnosed and goes through treatment. It impacts Didier two times over when Elise commits suicide. These characters experience the stages of grief, at different times than each other and lasting a different length of time, but the film showcases how together they deal with events parents should never have to go through. Elise starts to deny the gravity of Maybelle’s illness early on. When she doesn’t look sick, it is easy for Elise to deny that the cancer will ultimately destroy her. So, when she is trying to keep Didier from crying early on in the movie, she is denying how serious Maybelle’s illness is. She says that she is fine and doesn’t look sick, denying just how hard cancer is going to hit their daughter. The two of them go through the anger stage at a similar time. When they start to blame each other for Maybelle’s illness, the two of them are angry over more than what they are yelling about. They really don’t blame each other. It isn’t anyone’s fault that their daughter died. They just need a place to channel their ... ... middle of paper ... ...oss, but they manifest differently and at different times. It is interesting that they did not showcase Maybelle going through any of the stages herself. Because she is so young, it may have been a character choice on the writer’s part to focus more so on how it impacts Didier and Elise and not the girl dying herself. The movie shows how going through the stages of grief brings them together and pulls them apart. Ultimately, going through the Kubler-Ross formula helps them heal individually but as a couple their lives are fragmented. It is better that they somewhat effectively grieved and split apart rather then not deal with their grief and stay together because that could have lead to different problems in their marriage they would have been unable to face. The movie artfully depicts the harsh reality of grief and that the only way out of it is to go through it.

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