What happens when you squeeze every last breath of air from a movie? The answer is Broken, a short and dense film, crammed to the brim with interconnecting narratives, each one of which is of interest, although perhaps of too much interest to survive alongside so many others. Cull a few, and there's no reason that the remaining few couldn't achieve the same harrowing effect. It'd only feel less manipulative, that's all. If you're searching for blame, it can be found not in Mark O'Rowe's screenplay nor in Rufus Norris' debut direction, but in their source novel by Daniel Clay - all this simplistic, soap opera melodrama might make quite the impression on the page, but condensed into 80-odd minutes, Broken becomes an emotional assault. Your instinct may be to react with sincere empathy at the troubles depicted onscreen at first, only then to react with sincere scepticism and frustration at the escalating tragedy, as contrivance upon contrivance, catharsis upon catharsis is affixed. O'Rowe's intention is that every scene has purpose, yet there is purpose in deliberately-paced character development, or variation of tone and mood, both broadly absent - Norris' direction proves up to this task, in impeccable framing and blocking, and a thorough assuredness with all elements of filmmaking (although he is sporadically over-reliant on gauche, affected editing). And O'Rowe's dialogue is faultless, leading to a wealth of marvellous performances, especially from newcomer Eloise Laurence, whose acting quality is the very definition of natural, unassuming charisma.