Beautifully Broken (AU - M/US - PG-13)

In a word: Restorative

Beautifully Broken4

The Mwizerwa family in the film. 

 

This is a faith-based film but that aspect isn't in the least overbearing and nor is that the case with the issues its raises, like the treatment of refugees. The power of "Beautifully Broken lies in the story itself and the message of forgiveness, healing and restoration that it conveys."

This is a film about the Rwandan genocide of 1994 - but that's not the whole story. It's also a film about refugees. And it's a film about the restoration of a relationships within a family in the US. Each strand only makes up part of the whole.

Beautifully Broken is a complex narrative, weaving together the true story of three men and their families as they each face circumstances beyond their control and grapple with how to deal with them.

It starts with William Mwizerwa (played in the film by Benjamin A Onyango), a Tutsi who is working at a Rwandan coffee company just outside Kigali when the "100 days of madness" - otherwise known as the Rwandan genocide - breaks out in 1994. It follows his family as they desperately seek to survive and eventually end up in a refugee camp in Kenya. There William has the chance to go to the US and prepare the ground for his family to join him down the track. 

Mwizerwa and his wife Ebraille (Eva Ndachi) agree to take the opportinity for what could be a new future and Mwizerwa soon finds himself in Nashville, Tennesee. It's there that, introduced by his pastor, he meets the second of the men around whom this story is woven, a financial planner named Randy Hartley (Scott William Winters). Mwizerwa's heart has been moved by the plight of refugees when they arrive in the US and so Hartley works with him to help start a home for refugees in Nashville - Legacy Mission Village.

But Hartley's family, meanwhile, is facing its own issues - his daughter Andrea (Emily Hahn) has suddenly changed with the once happy girl he knew now withdrawn and rebellious. It's only when he and his wife Darla (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas) find a letter that the family's Rwandan sponsor child, Umuhoza (Ditebogo Ledwaba), has written to Andrea, that they realise she's undergone some trauma they don't know about.

Umuhoza's family - the third featured in the film - have also undergone their own trials. Her father Mugenzi (Bonko Khoza) is a Hutu who was  forced to join with the militias attacking people when the fighting breaks out in 1994. He's imprisoned after the war and is eventually released.

The three stories come together when, after Andrea makes a narrow escape from disaster, Randy - hoping that a new environment will be beneficial, suggests they take a trip with the Mwizerwas to Rwanda to met Umuhoza. It proves to be a pivotal moment in the lives of all three families.


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This is a faith-based film but that aspect isn't in the least overbearing and nor is that the case with the issues its raises, like the treatment of refugees. The power of Beautifully Broken lies in the story itself and the message of forgiveness, healing and restoration that it conveys.

There's some strong performances - Onyango and Winters are stand-outs - even if there's a couple of moments of slight clunkiness. There's also some interesting cameos - among them Michael W Smith plays the pastor who introduces Mwizerwa and Hartley while former cricketer Frans Cronjé plays Hans, the man who helps bring the Mwizerwas to the US.

Shot in South Africa and the US, there's an authenticity in the locations and the soundtrack, headlined by the song Beautifully Broken performed by John Berry, Plumb anbd CeCe Winans, is also a highlight. 

Beautifully Broken deals with some tough themes but they're handled in a sensitive way, giving the film a wide appeal.

Beautifully done.