Broke: A cinema verite masterpiece

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A cinema verite masterpiece…brilliantly captured… about an inner city pawnshop and a banker of last resort.

The documentary from Gemini-award-winning filmmaker Rosie Dransfeld is set in a pawnshop. Its owner, David Woolfson, a bone-hard Jewish merchant from South Africa, is a banker of last resort for the down-and-out residents of Edmonton’s grim and unforgiving inner city. He’s been running the store for nearly 16 years. Not that he needs to. It’s just that, if he was stuck at home, he would go mad.

Then, one day, Chris Hoard, an ex-convict, shows up and offers his help. For free. Shot in cinema-verite style, director Rosie Dransfeld brilliantly captures the unlikely friendship between the grouchy pawnbroker and his sweet-but-psychopathic assistant. Chris is learning a lot from the old cynic. But he has his own baggage to carry, and it is wearing him down.

At times hypnotic, the film portrays a powerful depiction of reality.

Dransfeld’s style draws us deep into a world of bargaining, insults, poverty and desperation.