Interview with Parker Posey and Zoe
Cassavetes of Broken English
Broken English Press
June 18, 2007
Written by Wendy
photo Parker Posey -
Photo Credit: Wendy R. Williams)
Broken English is a quintessentially
New York film (and no it has nothing to do
with the debate over immigration). I saw the
film and then attended the press junket. Here
is my review of the film (scroll down for
the interview with Parker Posey and Zoe Cassavetes):
Gena Rowlands and
Zoe R. Cassavetes’
Opens Friday, June 22, 2007
Parker Posey; Drea de Matteo; Gena Rowlands;
Melvil Poupaud; Justin Theroux; Tim Guinee;
and Peter Bogdanovich.
Reviewed by Wendy R. Williams
Zoe R. Cassavetes’ Broken English
is Sex and the City for the Lost
in Translation set. Set in New York,
it tells the smoky story of a New York single
woman whose life has been reduced to the long-gone-down-lonesome-blues.
Here is a quote from the press release: “
Parker Posey plays Nora Wilder, a thirty-something
Manhattanite who is cynical about love and
relationships. Plugging away at her job in
a posh downtown hotel, Nora can't help wondering
what it is she has to do to find a relationship
as ideal as her friend Audrey's (Drea De Matteo)
"perfect marriage." It doesn’t
help that her overbearing mother (Gena Rowlands)
takes every opportunity to remind Nora that
she's still unattached. After a series of
disastrous first dates, she meets Julien (Melvil
Poupaud), a seemingly devil-may-care Frenchman
with a passion for living. Expecting another
disastrous ending, Nora tries to avoid making
the same mistakes and in doing so finds herself
in Paris for the first time, with a new outlook
on life and love.”
Nora is disaffected and with good reason.
Her friend Audrey’s marriage is boredom
at best and the only men left for Nora to
date are the leftovers from the grand and
glorious marriage marriage market that most
New Yorkers enter in their mid to late twenties.
Once you hit thirty, the only choices left
are jerk and jerkier.
And then she meets a hot Frenchman, Julien
(played by Melvin Poupaud) and something clicks.
But Nora is still burdened with the baggage
of her passive aggressive dating style and
after all, the guy does live in Paris. So
they go to Paris to find him, but Nora also
takes along all of her self destructive impulses
This film has a tone and a feel that is quintessentially
New York and it tells a deeply psychological
story of sadness and loneliness. It is a story
of how people create their own lives by their
own expectations and nothing can really change
unless they change first.
Zoe Cassavetes’ follows in her family’s
tradition of creating intense emotional films.
Parker Posey does a magnificent job playing
a woman whose life may not be that far from
her own. Drea DeMatteo (of Adrianna in the
Sopranos fame) creates yet another
New York character that is filled with both
cynicism and longing. And Melvil Poupaud is
just plain sexy and if the French have more
of him, they should import them to New York.
Parker Posey and Melvil
Poupaud in Broken English
The Interview with
Question about what drew
her to the script.
Posey: I loved it when I first read
it right after 9/11. Bush was in town at the
time. And three years later Zoe got financing.
There is a lot that is not on the page. I
was able to play someone who is close to me
and explore the lonely parts and revealing
something about how difficult it is to be
alive. As a New Yorker, it is nice to see
a movie about a woman you can identify with.
At the premiere, men walk
up to me and said, “I’m just like
Nora [the character that Parker play in the
film].” And women said to me, “You
wake up, you are so hung over and there is
some guy in your room that you don’t
My character has not asked
for what she wants and is not living her own
life. There is a lot of emphasis on success
[in this world], but what interests me is
how full is your life.
I like the naturalness of
Cassavetes’ films [Zoe’s father
was the late great independent film maker,
John Cassavetes] where the characters are
not as dynamic.
Question about whether you
improved a lot in the film.
Posey: I played the character the way
it was written and Zoe talks to you a lot.
Question about how her relatives
and friends from the South will view this
film (Parker grew up in the South).
Posey: I wanted to leave the South
when I was eleven years old. And everyone
was like, “Who do you think you are?”
I spent my childhood in Monroe, Louisiana
and then we moved to Laurel, Mississippi.
They have an Easter pageant there where someone
plays Jesus and they light a fire. [Every
time I go back] someone says, “Are you
Question about which actresses
and films do you admire.
Posey: I like a lot of French films;
anything with Isabelle Hubert.
Question about what you
are working on now.
Posey: I am working on The
Return of Jezebel James by Gilmore Girls
writer, Amy Sherman-Palladino.
Photo Credit Wendy
with Zoe Cassavetes
Question about how much
of the film was scripted and how much was
Cassavetes: I wanted the script to
be honest and sound like a real conversation.
The most important thing was for Parker to
Question about the inspiration
for the story.
Cassavetes: The characters are combo
people and I worked in a hotel for five years.
A girl has to pay the bills.
Question about the casting
of Melvil Poupaud as the French lover.
Cassavetes: Melvil was my first choice.
I actually met him after I wrote then script.
Question about why she made
Cassavetes: It is very important to
me to make movies like this and fight for
movies like this. I want to tell a story that
means something to me. Most so-called independent
films are not actually independent films but
are made by studios. The demand that you have
stars but then they want the stars to work
for nothing. We had to shoot in 20 days.
Question about the HD camera.
Cassavetes: I liked working in HD and
I think it looks great. The camera was a Viper.
It is great working with digital because you
don’t run out of film and supposedly
you can take many shots. But the actors get
tired so you can’t take quite as many
as you might think.
Question about working with
her Mom, Gena Rowlands.
Cassavetes: I spent my entire life
watching my mother prepare to be in a film.
My Mom is proud of the film I made and she
gave me the respect that she would give any
director. My brother (Nick Cassavetes of Notebook
fame) told me that I made a great movie and
should be very proud.
Question about what you
called your Mom on the set.
Cassavetes: I called her Gena on the
set. Oh, by the way, today is her birthday
and I have to remember to call her.
Final question about how
she felt about the movie.
Cassavetes: I had a story to tell and
a message and I would not change it based
on what other people felt.
Many thanks to Parker Posey and Zoe Cassavetes
for talking to New York Cool.