the breaker upperers
DIRECTORs: madeleine sami (debut) and jackie van beek (the inland road)
STARRING: madeleine sami, jackie van beek, james rolleston, and celia pacquola
REVIEWER: lyall carter
Two women cynical of love, set up an agency to break up unhappy couples as a way to avoid letting go and moving on with their lives.
Mel and Jen run The Breaker Upperers agency which provides a breaking up service: getting people out of relationships that they don’t really want to be in. The concept of an agency that breaks people up is both bizarre and hilarious with a raft of comedy gold waiting to be mined from it. When we are introduced to Mel, Jen, and their agency we are treated to a wide variety of people and their dysfunctional relationships which definitely induces the belly laughs. Madeleine Sami (Mel) and Jackie van Beek (Jen) both have not only a great screen presence but a very funny to boot.
Then James Rolleston’s Jordan turns up wanting their service to break up with his intense girlfriend. It was such a joy to see Rolleston back after his life changing car accident and he is not only hilarious but the standout in a very funny cast.
But it’s at the introduction of Jordan that The Breaker Upperers begins to stumble. There is something about his growing relationship with Mel that seems a bit off. We never really get why they both fall madly in love (or is it lust?) so quickly. Ultimately that is where The Breaker Upperers didn’t really do it for me. There are funny moments, the retro music video flashback is particularly brilliant, but the motivations and development of the character’s relationships just didn’t ring true. If The Breaker Upperers had paid more attention to character development it would have worked more effectively.
With Taika Waititi’s comedic style looming large in New Zealands cinematic psyche and with his name plastered all over the advertising for The Breaker Upperers it will inevitably be compared to his films but its just not in the same league. Now The Breaker Upperers is no Gary of the Pacific but it isn’t quite up there with Pork Pie which is unfortunate because I really wanted to like it.
The Breaker Upperers feels more like a series of comedic sketches conveniently stitched together rather than a complete cinematic tale. Although it certainly has you laughing, its narrative leaps don't always ring true.