The Breaker Upperers sees Jackie Van Beek and Madeleine Sami co-write and boldly step into the Directors’ chair for a rom-com about the cringe-induced fallout of breakups. Van Beek and her partner in crime Sami, star as two entrepreneurs who break disillusioned couples up for cash. The methods to their madness involve everything from kidnapping to staging fake deaths in order to wedge an unbridgeable divide between their perpetually unhappy customers.
It comes as no surprise that Van Beek’s Jen and Sami’s Mel are equally listless in their own romantic lives. Taking a while to reveal itself, the crux of this film is Jen and Mel’s quest for romantic fulfillment which sadly leads viewers away from the office. The journey takes many detours and side-roads, before reversing over sacred ground only to get pulled over by a pair of stripper cops. Van Beek’s blasé humour dances deftly between crack-up and cringe as Mel explores younger avenues of interest and Jen tries to save her failing business.
Some of the best scenes involve visits to Jen’s mother’s place where awkward dinner table conversations about love, intercourse and corrugated iron wall-art leave the audience chuckling at the absurdity. The camera-work around the paternal home and other locales keeps the film firmly rooted in Kiwi-land while at the same time being nowhere in particular. The Mt Eden Rugby Legue club is one of the few “Aucks” based backdrops to define the setting, getting prime placement in the film’s climax. While some of the comedic setups may leave audience members feeling side-tracked, the story eventually charts course again in the final act as Jen, Mel, and a femme dance mafia convalesce into the perfect comic storm.
The chemistry between Sami and Van Beek is almost enough to carry this film on its own shoulders, but a pastiche of NZ comedians lend cameos to keep the pace. This opening montage of hilarity sets up a film that delivers unexpected laughs and a window into the infamous mid-life crisis.
The Breaker Upperers is out in Cinemas from 3rd May.
Reviewed by Nic Brookland