I was inspired to write this movie review after reading Sarah Gover’s recent anglican focus reflection ‘Letter from Rwanda: global Anglican ripples’.
Beautifully Broken is a true story about three families from different countries who, due to their ‘brokenness’, are all connected. The film centres around three fathers, William, Mugenzi and Randy, who have to make decisions to protect their families in the best way they know how. All three men start off with peaceful lives, but tragedy and hostility cause their lives to take unexpected paths. William, a Tutsi coffee factory manager in Rwanda becomes a refugee seeking safety; Mugenzi, a Hutu village farmer with a young family becomes a prisoner; and Randy, a wealthy business executive in Nashville who has a daughter with a compelling secret.
The story starts off in Rwanda during the genocide. William flees with his wife and daughter to escape the violence. At the same time, Mugenzi becomes an unwillingly part of the militia. William ends up a refugee in Nashville and a member of Randy’s church, separated from his family. Mugenzi winds up in jail separated from his family.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Randy is a hardworking man, devoted husband, and loving father. His family decides to sponsor a child from Rwanda through a Christian charitable organisation. His daughter, Andrea becomes pen pals with the child, who is Mugenzi’s daughter. They write constantly and form a bond. One day, a tragic event happens to Andrea. She refuses to speak about it. Following that event, their daughter becomes a very different person, almost unrecognisable. As time unfolds, Andrea drifts further and further away from her family.
All three families become intertwined, helping each other get healing and restoration in their lives. It is as if they all needed each other to help heal the brokenness resulting from their unique tragedies.
One of the key scenes of the film is when William returns to his village to find out what happened to his mother. He was told by his aunt (with her son hiding in the same room with a machete), “I thought I was leading your mother to safety, only to have my son murder her.” William’s response was to forgive her and wash her foot.
As the credits roll, we are shown images of the real-life people who inspired the movie’s characters, then and today, with text updating the viewer on the where they are at now.
The film’s primary strength is showing how people courageously deal with complex matters – murder, rape, drugs, faith and forgiveness. Beautifully Broken celebrates the power of faith and forgiveness, and the potential for reconciliation and redemption. What is most incredible about the movie is that the events depicted are based on authentically raw and true experiences of real people, held in God’s sovereign hand.
Every day we are confronted by serious issues in the media, and sometimes in our own lives, including civil war, natural disasters, domestic violence, drug addiction, etc. We are often asked for donations, increased awareness, our prayers, and to help in any other way we can, but we do not always have time to connect in some way with the individuals affected by tragic events.
I highly recommend this film. Everyone is broken in some way. This story demonstrates how God can work through the lives of individuals and heal in ways we could never expect. I think this is an excellent film for all Christians and can open some deep conversations with our older teenage children.
Beautifully Broken, M, is directed by Eric Welch.