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Half Broken Things (2007)

A middle aged housesitter meets two tearaways (people who behave in a wild or reckless manner), and together they form a surrogate family.


Tim Fywell


Morag Joss (novel), Alan Whiting (screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Penelope Wilton ... Jean
Daniel Mays ... Michael
Sinead Matthews ... Steph
Nicholas Le Prevost ... Rev Gordon Brookes
Lara Cazalet ... Sally
Sian Thomas ... Shelley
Crispin Redman ... Mr David
Bradley Gardner Bradley Gardner ... Jason
Kenneth Hadley ... Bill
Eileen Nicholas ... Mrs Dawson
Anthony Smee Anthony Smee ... Magistrate
Geoffrey McGivern Geoffrey McGivern ... Jack (as Geoff McGivern)


A middle aged housesitter meets two tearaways (people who behave in a wild or reckless manner), and together they form a surrogate family.

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based on novel | See All (1) »


Drama | Thriller







Release Date:

28 October 2007 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Des Hauses Hüterin See more »

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User Reviews

Where deficiencies within the human psyche lead to the abyss.
10 December 2011 | by RJBurke1942See all my reviews

This is billed as a drama and thriller. It should, more correctly, be labeled as horror – and quite a suspenseful one at that.

The story concerns a fifty-nine-year-old woman (Penelope Wilton) who house-sits through an agency. She's been doing it for decades but, as we soon learn, this is her last job: when she turns sixty she'll be discharged with no prospects for further work. That type of future, of course, is a recipe for depression – and other things.

Coincidentally, we are introduced to a young con man (Daniel Mays) – but a likable one, sort of – who works the rural and suburban areas for objets d'art that he can steal and sell-on to shady dealers. He's currently on the run from one of his escapades that went wrong. And, while still running, so to speak, he comes across a battered woman (Sinead Mathews) at a petrol station who pleads with the young fellow to take her away – quickly, please quickly – from her abusive and violent partner. Being the good Samaritan, he impulsively does the right thing. Or, so he thinks.

Realizing that he needs more money now – with a woman on board and a pregnant one, at that – he sets out to find another easy mark somewhere. Ultimately, he decides to pull into the large mansion where the good house-sitter is ensconced, in the hope of perpetrating another con. Making that decision, however, seals the fate of all three - as well others...

There are three elements that help to keep this narrative flowing logically: first, the consistent adherence to cause and effect that determines plot; second, the psychology of the three main characters, each of whom needs psychological help like an alcoholic needs the next drink; and finally, a believable script that is thoughtfully presented and well acted out by the three protagonists/antagonists. It's almost unnecessary to say that the direction and editing are flawless.

Life is all about cause and effect, obviously. Everyday life is also about co-incidences, many of which are strange, even weird. Hence, the use of co-incidence as a plot device in this story is well within reasonable limits, I think. Some viewers might disagree, however.

The most unsettling aspect for me, and other perhaps, is that the whole story shows the extent to which seemingly average – whatever average means to you – people will go to protect their interests and well-being, including performing horrific acts when it appears no other option is available.

Who has never said "I'll kill you for that…"? Who has never had the darkest thoughts about how to handle a perceived enemy? Oh, I'm not excusing the horror of this story. I'm simply pointing out it's a very human story about many so-called average people; and three who throw caution to the winds and who make self-serving choices when escape seems impossible.

It's a story for adults, of course; I'd suggest that most teenagers would be bored, however.

Highly recommended.

December 11, 2011

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