Broken English


by Tuna

A drama from New Zealand, Broken English highlights racial problems among Croatian immigrants, Chinese, and Maori. It's told from the point of view of Aleksandra Vujcic, the mature and ripe daughter of a Croatian immigrant (Rade Serbedzija). Her overbearing father tries to control her life so she has decided it is time to leave the nest. She works in a Chinese restaurant, and agrees to accept money to marry the boyfriend of one of the waitresses so he can obtain residency (her mother was born in New Zealand, so she is a citizen). This gives her enough money to move out from her father's house, and move in with the new Maori cook, Julian Arahanga. Once Julian finds out exactly how bad her father is, he tries to break it off, but that is before everyone discovers she is pregnant.

I will admit to a weakness for films with cross-cultural themes, and it was nice to see the star-crossed lovers win one for a change, but it was the acting that really made this film for me. Rade Serbedzija has incredible screen presence and power, and sells every part I have ever seen him play. Julian Arahanga was superb, and had huge chemistry with the beautiful Aleksandra Vujcic, who also sold the role.

The one sex scene that included nudity really sizzled, and ended when the bed collapsed. This is likely the scene that earned the film its NC-17 rating, although I have seen similar material in-R rated films.

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


That's probably the right score, but it will be most appreciated by those who like cross-cultural themes and insights.




Broken English is only available in a Region 4 PAL edition. Here is a link to the exclusive American distributor, or click on the  image below for more information.


Broken English DVD Aleksandra Vujcic (1996)


2.5 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
3 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)


6.6 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. It grossed about a half million dollars in an arthouse run in the USA.


  • There are several sex scenes, but nudity in only one of them. Aleksandra Vujcic does full frontal, but in a very darkly lit scene.
  • Julian Arahanga shows his bum in that same scene.