As charmingly verklemmt New York women with bad luck in men and good luck in apartments go, Nora Wilder in Broken English has all the breaks. For one thing, she’s played by Parker Posey, who can salvage even the ditziest of Manhattanite characters with one scrunch of her bright face. For another, just when Nora’s about to give up hope for the umpteenth time on her ability to appreciate just what a posy she is and after she has been validated by her more functional friend Audrey (The Sopranos’ Drea de Matteo, leaving all traces of Adriana behind), she meets Julien (Time to Leave’s Melvil Poupaud). He’s a handsome Frenchman with chic stubble, a straw fedora, and a way with cigarettes to die for, and the two have lots of vertical and horizontal fun before and after sunset, until he returns to Paris. Then Nora drags her cute tushie about going there to find him. But she does. She even misses her plane in a manner that ought to make Richard Linklater suspicious.
The tour of Manhattan and Paris is fun in a privileged Sex and the City way, but the wish-fulfillment content is awfully flimsy in this debut from writer-director Zoe Cassavetes, who casts her mother, Gena Rowlands, in a small role as Nora’s own get-with-it-sweetie dynamo of a sophisticated mom. Why now for Nora, and why a French monsieur? Pourquoi pas, says the filmmaker — who’s engaged to a Frenchman.