The Breaker Upperers (2018) is a New Zealand comedy film directed, written by, and starring Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek. The film was produced by filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi.
The premise of The Breaker Upperers centres around two characters, Mel [Madeleine Sami] and Jen [Jackie van Beek], best friends who run a break up agency – which is essentially the opposite of a dating agency but with more costumes and scheming. After Mel derails their operation by offering what might constitute some sort of illegitimate and unhelpful follow-up care to a client’s target, she inadvertently threatens their whole business.
In terms of style. The Breaker Upperers has the feel of a low budget, passion project. The retro visuals are paired with a muted colour palette, reminiscent of a small and sleepy town. The location of where the film is set is nondescript because a specifically named location is unnecessary to the film’s plot and narrative.
The fact that Sami and van Beek chose to star in the film, as well as being the film’s co-writers and directors, suggests the pair had a particular idea of how they wanted the film to look – who can better portray a filmmaker’s vision than the filmmaker themselves?
Whilst, The Breaker Upperers is a laugh-out-loud funny film, but that doesn’t stop it from having depth. The thematic content of the film really centres around friendship, and in particular, female friendship. The friendship between Mel and Jen provides the film with a focal point, whilst other occurrences happen around said friendship. Also featuring quite heavily in the film are ideas around sexuality and race, and the film manages to balance serious subjects with humour.
Overall, I enjoyed watching The Breaker Upperers, it is a really fun film with an abundance of well-written dialogue. It has a relatively short runtime at 80 minutes, but that works well as the story is wrapped up and it keeps the trajectory punchy.
I would definitely recommend The Breaker Upperers if you are a fan of Taika Waititi’s comedy films as the humour is in a similar vein, truly funny with heart as well.
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