Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The Breaker Upperers: Film Review

The Breaker Upperers: Film Review


Cast: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston, Rima Te Wiata
Directors: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek

There's no disputing the necessity and timeliness of The Breaker Upperers, a female written, directed and led comedy, aimed squarely at getting groups of women together and out into the cinema.
The Breaker Upperers: Film Review

Fresh from success on the international circuit and at SXSW, van Beek and Sami play Jen and Mel, a couple of long-term mates who have an agency that essentially breaks couples up, because those involved are too scared to do it themselves.

Business is good, and Jen's approach is to never let it get personal.

However, when Mel gets the guilts for claiming to Annie one of those dumped that her other half went AWOL, things start to rupture between the two of them. It's further exacerbated when Mel starts dating Rolleston's lacking-in-smarts Jordan - it looks very much like the next couple heading for splitsville is Mel and Jen...

The Breaker Upperer's short run time helps, because, in parts, areas of this film feel like an extended sketch show thrown together with the flimsiest of threads and the best of intentions.
The Breaker Upperers: Film Review

It's not to belittle any of those involved nor their intentions, but the general malaise which settles in to The Breaker Upperers is more prevalent when scenes don't centre on Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek's characters.

In between the hitherto-rarely seen on the big screen take on female friendship delivered by The Breaker Upperers, there are some high points. Sami, in particular, delivers a gutsy performance that drops the laughs with ease; van Beek's more of a straight man act to this, but it's herein the problem with The Breaker Upperers lies.

The simple cold hard fact of the matter is that everyone within is a character to varying degrees.

It means that when the emotional pull is supposed to come, it doesn't resonate as strongly as it should, largely in part to the feeling that swathes of this feel underwritten and ever-so slightly undercooked.

It's not majorly disparaging, just disappointing that there's potential here that feels lost in translation - and cameos from the likes of te Wiata as Jen's sex-obsessed hoitytoity mother and a sequence involving a 90s Celine Dion karaoke ballad means there are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments to be had.
The Breaker Upperers: Film Review

Rolleston tries to play fast and dumb with Jordan, and a comment midway through the film as he gets a lift back home with his mum and beau in tow is genuinely one of the most scabrous and hilarious sentences uttered in the history of New Zealand cinema.

But that's the issue here - the humour is too few and far in between.

At its heart, The Breaker Upperers simply wants to be loved.

It doesn't want to be rejected like its suitors and yet it never quite offers a compelling enough reason to try and make it through the rocky periods and past the initial honeymoon period.

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