A romantic comedy with a twist is how you could describe The Breaker Upperers as it doesn’t follow a pattern of a conventional rom-com. Adding its own New Zealand humour, which is slowly being released into mainstream film and television, the film is not only a breath of fresh air because it’s a rom-com about friendship rather than love, but it also written and directed by it’s stars, Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek.
As positive, free spirited Mel (Sami) and bitter people hater Jen (van Beek) the two friends run an agency for people who want to break up with their partners but are just too weak to. But with their latest clients, the two friends hit a brick wall with their business and friendship. The very lonely Anna who is told her husband is missing and young Jordan who has a crush on Mel and wants to break up with his tough misses, Sepa.
How Mel and Jen work with their clients is show in an amusing montage including some famous faces, such as Lucy Lawless, showing the various sometimes absurd way they get the job done. From impersonating police officers to staging a call where someone gets shot. It’s a somewhat cold-hearted job and in Jen’s enjoyment of their work is mirrored perfectly in Mel’s eyes who starts to feel sorry for the people’s lives they ruin. Although it’s a romantic comedy, the romance is dialled back in terms of plot and it more about the friendship between the leads. Having met after finding out the same man was cheating on them both, their friendship is based on one sided anger and jealousy (from Jen).
Sami and van Beek have fantastic chemistry, bouncing off each other, not afraid to go the extra bizarre mile. The story and characters that inhabit it are sometimes bizarre but brilliant. The romantic element to the story is basic but with James Rolleston as the naïve Jordan and newcomer Ana Scotney as fierce Sepa, there is an actual sweetness to their relationship.
The film manages to be several different comedic plots at the same time; odd couple pairing, screwball antics, quirky romance making it comedic gold that isn’t present in it’s Hollywood and even indie comparatives. Hopefully we’ll see more of what Sami and van Beek have to offer in the future.
Dir: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek
Prd: Georgina Allison Conder, Ainsley Gardiner, Carthew Neal
Scr: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek
Cast: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston, Celia Pacquola, Ana Scotney
DoP: Ginny Loane
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 90 minutes