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Broken Vessels

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Director  Scott Ziehl
Budget  600,000 USD
Language  English
6.6/10 IMDb

Genre  Drama
Music director  Todd Field, Bill Laswell
Country  United States
Broken Vessels movie poster
Release date  April 18, 1998
Writer  David Baer, Brent David Fraser (voice over co-writer), John McMahon, Scott Ziehl
Cast  Todd Field (Jimmy), Jason London (Tom), Roxana Zal (Elizabeth), Susan Traylor (Susy)
Similar movies  Todd Field appears in Broken Vessels and New Port South
Tagline  Over the edge and out of control.

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Broken Vessels is a 1999 medical drama film directed by Scott Ziehl and written by Ziehl along with David Baer and John McMahon. The film debuted at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and marked Ziehl's directorial debut. It stars Todd Field, Jason London, Roxana Zal, Susan Traylor, and James Hong. The film follows a rookie paramedic and his hardened drug-addicted partner as they take calls and cruise L.A. in their ambulance. Although it shares the same name as the book, it has nothing to do with the Andre Dubus essay collection of the same name.


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The film tells the story of Tom, a young man from Pennsylvania who travels to Los Angeles to start working for an ambulance company. There, he is paired with an utterly self-assured veteran named Jimmy who has apparently gone through many partners in his time. In the beginning, Tom is overwhelmed by Jimmy's competence to deal with the high-pressure job, but slowly but surely he discovers that Jimmy is not the cool and collected man he thought he was. While Jimmy seems to have everything under control on the surface, he gets through the traumatic effects of the job by heavy use of drugs and avoiding commitments. Before long Tom finds himself pulled into the same world and has to come to a decision about what direction he wants to take in his life.


  • Todd Field as Jimmy Warzniak
  • Jason London as Tom Meyer
  • Roxana Zal as Elizabeth Capalino
  • Susan Traylor as Susy
  • James Hong as Mr. Chen
  • Patrick Cranshaw as Gramps
  • Brent David Fraser as Jed
  • Stephanie Feury as Jill
  • Box office

    Made on a non-union shoestring budget of $600,000, it was nominated for several awards when it was shown at film festivals in 1998., Though it failed to find a legitimate theatrical distributor, eventually, the film was self-released in just two theaters over the holiday weekend of July 4, 1999 and brought in $3,722.

    Critical reception

    The film received no small amount of notice from major critics including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times who gave it three stars out of four, saying "What makes the movie special is the way both lead actors find the right quiet notes for their performances."

    Awards and nominations

    At the British Independent Film Awards, the film was nominated for Best Foreign Independent Film - English Language, at the Gijón International Film Festival director Scott Ziehl was nominated for the Grand Prix Asturias award in the category of Best Feature. Ziehl and co-producer Roxana Zal won the Audience Award in the category of Best Feature Film at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival in 1998.


    Broken Vessels Wikipedia
    Broken Vessels IMDb Broken Vessels