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  • Colin Fraser


TWO AND A HALF STARS Two women run an agency that breaks up couples who can't do it for themselves.

Madeleine Sam, Jackie Van Beek

When romance is on the skids but you haven’t got the stomach to call it quits, who ya gonna call? The Breaker Upperers, as it happens. They’re two Kiwi women who put themselves between you and your ex-loved one, concoct a (frequently absurd) story about infidelity / disease / death / whateva to make sure the ex-loved one A) gets the message and B) gets the message.

How much you enjoy the exaggerated comedy of THE BREAKER UPPERERS depends A) on your taste for absurdist Kiwi humour and B) well, you get the idea. Produced by Taika Waititi, the force behind hits like THOR RAGNAROK but more relevantly HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, BOY and the college-vampire curiosity WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, his is an acquired taste. When it’s hot (WILDERPEOPLE) it’s hot. When it’s not (SHADOWS), it can be something of a slog. Granted he only checked in as a producer here, yet his writer / director / star acolytes (Madeleine Sami and Jackie Van Beek) haven’t strayed too far from the well.

Thus THE BREAKER UPPERERS is a pretty uneven affair. The over-arching story has the women (cue irony) break up when one of them falls for a client, BOY’s boy, James Rolleston. That he’s a high-school kid is only part of the problem; his formidable ex isn’t getting the message and fights hard to win him back. Then there’s Celia Pacquola, an aggrieved victim of their methods who cuts through the deception. There are many detours along the way to an inevitably thin resolution which open into comedic set pieces, an impromptu strip-a-gram for a lesbian officer at the local police station for instance.

These skits within a string of skits inevitably brings you back to your enthusiasm for absurdist Kiwi humour that largely dumps the demands of a purposeful narrative in favour of cheap jokes. Nonetheless THE BREAKER UPPERERS finds its fans, it opened the Sydney Film Festival after all, just as WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and stable-mate FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS did before it.

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