What elevates Broken English above other typical, unimaginative romantic comedies is its willingness to look at how Nora sabotages herself. It's not just that guys are horny jerks who can't commit. It's also that Nora herself may be too quick to panic, to demand intimacy, to not know what she wants. "I'm just trying to figure out if this is supposed to mean something," she tells Julien after 24 hours together. She thinks love should mesmerize like magic, and yet, Paris location aside, what she finds isn't necessarily magical at the start. The movie's title refers not just to the literal language divide between Nora and Julien but also to the chasm that separates two people longing to make a connection but unsure how to trust.
Cassavetes' promise (and pedigree -- her father is the legendary John Cassavetes) is evident throughout. She allows scenes to breathe, though the start of the film meanders a little too much. (Also annoying: The movie's forgettable "wisdom" -- i.e., you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else.) The cast -- which includes Drea de Matteo as Nora's unhappily married best friend and Cassavetes' mom, Gena Rowlands -- shines. But it's Parker who's the revelation: She's still neurotic, but this time, she's genuinely lost, too. And, most important, vulnerable. When Nora finally finds what she's looking for, you're relieved and pleased, even if the ending is, well, a little too "magical."