The Breaker Upperers

Coming to Cinemas 3 May 2018

Jackie van Beek (What We Do in the Shadows) and Madeleine Sami (Sione's Wedding) are two romance cynics running a business breaking up unhappy couples in this New Zealand buddy comedy. Written and directed by van Beek and Sami, the film also features James Rolleston (Boy), Australian comedian Celia Pacquola (TV's Rosehaven), Rima Te Wiata (Housebound) and Cohen Holloway (Hunt for the Wilderpeople).

Trailers

Directed by

Comedy

81mins

Rating: M Drug use, sex scenes, sexual references & offensive language

New Zealand

When The Breaker Upperers debuted at Austin’s South by Southwest film festival in March of this year, it was to the kind of uproarious international delight that Kiwi culture so fitfully feeds on - so much so that Variety described writer-director-stars Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami “a female version of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement”.

However I may feel about the use of the “female version” label (hint: mad) this warm reception is well deserved. While Waititi gets an executive producer credit, The Breaker Upperers is a rare and riotous glimpse at what the women of the New Zealand comedy scene are capable of.

The titular breaker upperers are Jen and Mel (van Beek and Sami respectively), best friends and romance cynics who, for a fee, will end their client’s relationships for them - whether that be via a singing telegram, mock pregnancy or even a few faked deaths. Yet even as business is booming, the cracks are beginning to show, both in Jen and Mel’s relationship and the rather flawed ideology on which their careers are based.

Where this all leads will likely not be a surprise to many (personal epiphanies and dance numbers, to give you a hint), yet with a kind of banal surrealism underlying even the more formulaic moments of The Breaker Upperers, van Beek and Sami never let things go stale.

It's not hard to see how it would sell to an international audience, happily perpetuating the (not entirely untrue) myth of a country populated by neurotic yet polite weirdos with maybe lower than average emotional intelligence. Yet even when The Breaker Upperers is at its most quaint, there remains a spark at its core that gives even the too-neat ending an edge.

With the kind of performances that should, by rights, make everyone involved a big rich movie star (a fabulously gormless James Rolleston often threatens to steal the show) and cameos from just about every New Zealand comedian imaginable, The Breaker Upperers is brimming with proof that, given the chance, Aotearoa's female talent have their own stories to tell - and are no less hilarious in doing so.

Variety (USA)

press

A terrific showcase for the duo and their entire cast, which, besides a pop-up bit from Clement, is curated from a local talent pool that Hollywood has yet to spelunk. After this, it should.

Film School Rejects

press

The whole thing has great energy and might be one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year (or last).