Fifteen years ago, Jen (Jackie van Beek) and Mel (Madeleine Sami) were cheated on by the same man at the same time. But they’ve since gotten over being the ‘other women’ in each others’ lives, and have made a business and a profit out of the morally ambiguous work of breaking up other unhappy couples. However, tensions rise between the ride-or-die partners and best friends when Mel starts a sexual relationship with a young client (James Rolleston) and becomes over-involved in the heartache of Anna (Celia Pacquola) who’s husband left her through the Breaker Upperers service. Less cynical than her business partner, Mel begins to question her role as a Breaker Upperer and realises how much hurt they cause doing the job of “weak arseholes who don’t have the guts to talk to their partners.”
The Breaker Upperers recognises the messy world of relationships, from romantic, to sexual, to familial, to friendship, that never follow the acceptable and intended path of monogamy, matrimony, multiplication. The film explores single motherhood and, in particular, has an enlightened and responsible take on LGBT+ relationships and representations. The Breaker Upperers is an original female-driven rom-com film that doesn’t follow the formula for stereotypical romance. What’s not to love?
Written and directed by Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami, with Taika Waititi as executive producer, The Breaker Upperers follows in a similar style of deadpan comedy as Waititi’s earlier works, albeit with slightly cruder humour. Van Beek and Sami keep the jokes flying thick and fast and there is never a dull moment, as even in the more emotionally significant scenes, the film keeps the tone light and playful.
Cleverly written with excellent comedic timing, the film excels on the natural energy between van Beek and Sami, with a dash of Rolleston’s trademark dumb-yet-loveable humour. However, the intense and out-of-place drug references seem like a fall back on shock value to generate laughs, and are entirely unnecessary when the film could get by on its cheeky and charming banter. The film does utilise some ingenious methods of storytelling, including a 90’s style music video dream montage to relay backstory. Despite its somewhat uninspired dance sequence climax, it’s a satisfying end that ties off loose ends with self-improvement and apologies.
If anything, it’s a wonderful and original ode to sisterhood, an all round good time and recommended watch. Everyone needs a sassy back-up squad.
I rate this film 8.5/10.