BREAK ALL THE RULES

Kiwi com­edy The Breaker Up­per­ers of­fers a re­fresh­ingly mat­ter-of-fact treat­ment of fe­male sex­u­al­ity mixed with plenty of laughs

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - NEWS - VICKY ROACH

In Train­wreck, Amy Schumer sub­verted slut sham­ing. In Brides­maids, Kris­ten Wiig and her gal pals re­cal­i­brated ro­mance. In The Breaker Up­per­ers, Kiwi funny ladies Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek play just as fast and loose with the jilted woman stereo­type.

Should any bunny boil­ing oc­cur in this film, the per­pe­tra­tor will be mo­ti­vated en­tirely by the­atri­cal ef­fect.

When Mel (Sami) and Jen (van Beek) dis­cover they are be­ing cheated on by the same man, they turn that emo­tion­ally bruis­ing ex­pe­ri­ence out­wards, set­ting up a small busi­ness en­ter­prise. Deeply cyn­i­cal about mat­ters of the heart, the two women team up to make a liv­ing out of split­ting peo­ple up.

If you’re a wimp, but cheap, you can hire them to doorstop your soon-to-be ex – in coun­try and west­ern cos­tume – with a Dear John song. If you’re an even big­ger wimp, and more cashed up, they will stage your un­timely, vi­o­lent, demise – then front up, dressed as cop­pers, to in­form your for­mer loved one of the tragic events over a cup of tea.

The two women ac­tively and unashamedly profit from oth­ers’ mis­for­tune. There isn’t a shred of sen­ti­men­tal­ity in their ap­proach, which only adds to the comic ab­sur­dity of the sit­u­a­tion, es­pe­cially in the face of the “be­reaved” one’s grief.

But while Jen’s bit­ter­ness neu­tralises any un­der­ly­ing feel­ings of re­morse, Mel func­tions as more of an in­no­cent clown. This adds a com­ple­men­tary layer to their re­la­tion­ship and makes the set-up more re­lat­able.

Mel’s first mis­take is to feel sorry for one of their “wi­d­ows” (played by Aussie Celia Pac­quola); be­fore she knows it, she’s in­vited her out for a drink.

Then she be­comes an ac­ci­den­tal cougar to James Rolle­ston’s (the Boy kid, grown up) clue­less rugby player af­ter im­per­son­at­ing his new girl­friend.

His dumpee, the fe­ro­cious girl gangsta Sepa (Ana Scot­ney), who doesn’t go any­where with­out her equally in-your-face posse, proves par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to shake.

When past mis­deeds catch up with the two pro­tag­o­nists, and their ex-boyfriend reap­pears, re­open­ing old wounds, Mel and Jen’s friend­ship be­gins to strain.

There are times when The Breaker Up­per­ers, writ­ten and di­rected by Sami and van Beek, feels more like an ex­tended sketch rou­tine than a fully-fledged fea­ture film and some of the ma­te­rial is a lit­tle ob­vi­ous.

But there’s some­thing free and fear­less about the two very flawed cen­tral fe­male char­ac­ters. They don’t break the rules; they’re obliv­i­ous to them.

What re­ally marks The Breaker Up­per­ers apart, how­ever, is the film­mak­ers’ re­fresh­ingly mat­ter-of-fact treat­ment of fe­male sex­u­al­ity, pre­sented here as adapt­able, ex­plo­rative, and well, sim­ply a given.

Un­like their English, Amer­i­can and even Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts, th­ese Kiwi char­ac­ters are nat­u­rally open and up­front about their phys­i­cal de­sires. Who would have thunk? The Breaker Up­per­ers opens in cine­mas to­day.

Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek in The Breaker Up­per­ers.

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