By Jess Fenton
2nd June 2018

For over a decade, the TV series and movies ‘Sex and the City’ showcased to the world what women have known for a millennia - that men come and go but the biggest, the best and the most significant relationships women have are with each other. Now it’s New Zealand’s turn - quiet possibly the most comedically-gifted filmmakers, globally - to take a shot at the female-dominated rom-com and up-end the clichés that men and procreation are the keys to happiness and fulfilment. Pfft!

Jen (Jackie van Beek, ‘What We Do in the Shadows’) and Mel (Madeline Sami, TV’s ‘Top of the Lake’) are two codependent best friends and small business owners. 15 years ago when they discovered they were both in a relationship with the same man, they teamed up to overcome their pain and sorrow and formed The Breaker Upperers - a business that puts the “con” in “conscious uncoupling”. Nothing is off limits in the world of break-ups; fake pregnancies, missing persons, fake deaths, fetishes, disloyalty, even a singing telegram gets the job done. Yet when two “jobs” end up going off-script and cause Mel to grow a conscience, their friendship is put to the test.


Written, directed and starring our femme fatals Jackie and Madeline, they can do it all and do it well, all while showing off New Zealand’s wickedly dry sense of humour and originality. At just under 90 minutes, the comedy features not one, not two but three montages and one dance number - which may seem like a lot of padding, but every inch of the film is hilarious, perhaps a little unnecessary, but never slow, dragged or unwelcome.

While naturally gifted and experienced, this is the ladies’ first foray into feature films; enter NZ comedy god Taika Waititi (‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’) who serves as Executive Producer and script consultant. Undoubtedly his guidance has helped shape this lean story into the well-rounded, heartwarming and hilarious comedy it’s become. There’s no CGI or pyrotechnics here. ‘The Breaker Upperers’ is the low-budget indie darling you hope and expect it to be, and will surely become an instant classic and comedic phenomenon while boosting the female profile cinema has been experiencing the last 12 months.

‘The Breaker Upperers’ is the low-budget indie darling you hope and expect it to be and will surely become an instant classic.

Co-starring Aussie stand-up comedy darling Celia Pacquola, James Rolleston (‘Boy’) and absolute stand-out scene chewer, newcomer Ana Scotney, this ensemble piece is all about the cast of characters. Each highly talented performer brings something special to the table, led by van Beek (who constantly makes me think, “Gee Sally Hawkins does a great New Zealand accent) and Sami as they bring their baby to life.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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