Meant to Be Broken is about Harvey, played by Dave Coyne, the kind of person that no-one wants to be; nice, well intentioned but sad, boring and utterly unremarkable.
From the opening moments of the film we know Harvey is not one of life’s winners but things for Harvey go quickly from mundane to tragic after he collapses at work and after a visit to a doctor discovers he has maybe a month left to live. Cheerful right?
Meant to Be Broken could have been made to pull on your heartstrings, to have you sobbing like a baby over how unjust the world is but it’s just not that kind of film, and thank God for that! Fortunately Meant to Be Broken was written with a sense of humour that not only makes it enjoyable but also helps take the edge off an otherwise bitter pill.
Harvey’s story is tragic, he’s just a nice guy bumbling along doing his thing when life empties its bowels on him, but the film isn’t about his death, it’s about the journey he (and some new friends) take to get there.
Co-ordinated by 48 Hour Film Project the movie was shot in every major city down the East coast of America and was crewed by hundreds of volunteers. What they’ve managed to pull off it quite remarkable; it doesn’t feel disjointed and certainly doesn’t look like it was made on a shoestring.
There are one or two blemishes in the acting where it comes across as a bit forced but largely the actors, Dave Coyne (“Elf-Man”, “V/H/S/2”), Nick DePinto (“Bare Knuckle”, “Collide”) & Nadia Mohebban (“Project Inferno (TV)”, “Unfortunately Ashly”) do a sound job of portraying their rather opposite characters.
After finding out his life is about to be cut short Harvey walks into a bar and eventually confesses to never having broken any rules to a dipsomaniac on the next stool. Said drunk, Luke, then asks the question which lies down the foundations for the next hour or more: “Do you want to?”
Luke is pretty much the antithesis of Harvey; overly confident, rule breaker, carefree, reckless and looks like he last changed and showered a week ago. He’s the kind of person who’s never followed the rules a day in his life and can’t comprehend those that do (the kind of person I would willingly beat with a big stick if I wasn’t so afraid of being caught).
In a way that’s sadly true to life, Luke is probably the more interesting person and when Shifty shows up on the scene some time later it’s clear which one of them she’ll fall for.
So, Luke and Harvey head off to Miami – Harvey with his rule breaking agenda (aiming to break as many utterly ridiculous American laws as possible) and Luke with his own secret one. They make an unlikely duo and it’s not long before fate lands them with an extra party member – Shifty.
Shifty, played by Nadia Mohebban adds a welcome dimension to the group and thankfully doesn’t fall into the all too frequently used pool of either staunch feminist or bimbo. Shifty has something she wants to gain from the road trip as well though I wasn’t sure by the end of the film if she’d discovered it.
The addition of Shifty makes Luke feel like he’s taking a back seat and it’s clear he likes to be both the centre of attention and the one in control. Shifty though proves herself to have more balls than Luke and becomes a valuable asset to the trio.
Things don’t always go smoothly though, with Harvey out in a scrap yard Luke and Shifty decide to taste the forbidden fruit (which seems quite selfish given their compatriot is lying comatose in the back of a scrap vehicle). When Harvey learns of their moment of passion he feels isolated and disillusioned and decides to part ways with them.
The parting of ways however leads both groups to further complications: a bartender named Randy who lives up to her name and an amateur surgeon who has a penchant for laughing gas, so it’s not long before the trio is reunited.
Eventually Lukes hidden agenda is outed, much to the chagrin of the other two (remember what I said about the big stick?) – the plan surges forward but in the end it’s Harvey that dreams up the perfect solution.
Ultimately Meant to Be Broken does have a sincere message, the three characters all develop and reveal more of themselves as the movie progresses; each one of them gets something from road trip and when the ending does come it’s without fanfare, which is saddening but true to the nature of Harvey.