First off, what is Brothers Broken?
Brothers Broken takes the audience behind the story of two brothers, Geoff Levin and Robbie Levin, who separated for 46 years due to Scientology. Their eventual disassociation hit right as they rose to fame as members of the rock band PEOPLE! and their one-hit wonder in 1968, “I Love You,” was gaining national attention.
Onto the Review
Throughout the documentary, we follow along from the beginning with stories weaved in between how Robbie removed himself from the religion and the slow downfall of Geoff’s realization, which eventually led him to cut ties with the practice. Overall, it’s a painstakingly heartbreaking real-life look behind the curtain of the world of Scientology.
The film captivated us when we saw the trailer and the connection to the Bay Area. The early rise of PEOPLE! had so much promise. Unfortunately, the world didn’t hear more of what could have been the next big rock band of their time. The glimpse of the separation and each brother’s journey afterward is a harrowing watch. It’s clear to see the effects and the absolute harm inflicted on these former members.
While Geoff suffered years of trauma (and continued to reap the consequences), it’s nice to see former members work so hard to rebuild a life they could claim back. It’s hard to dismiss an interviewee’s physical pain and emotional tone. Who can blame them? Everyone’s unique story and how they were affected by Scientology transformed their lives in a significant way.
The stories and the emotions are irreplaceable, but the movie itself could lend itself to a more streamlined storytelling from a viewer’s point of view. Often, it was hard to keep up with significant storylines when topics deterred to steer viewers in a different direction, which ultimately led us to confusion.
One moment, there’s a focus on Geoff, and the next is an abrupt jump to Robert and his journey creating Spinning. Soon after, the storyline jumps back to Geoff. The jarring jumps distracted our line of focus. We were left confused about who or what our focus was at any given time in the movie. To make the movie more effective, the storytelling could have been streamlined to avoid confusion. This would have helped not only us but other audience members understand the progression of events more clearly.
The movie has incredible bones and a thrilling story to pay close attention to, especially with the positive growth of Geoff and Robbie’s relationship. The ultimate payoff with the reunion of the two, plus the band, gives us much hope for the future and years to come.
Where to watch Brothers Broken
Brothers Broken is making its rounds during the 2023 Cinequest Film Festival. Catch the next screening on Saturday, August. 26, inside the ShowPlace ICON Theatre & Kitchen in Mountain View. Purchase your tickets HERE.