For fans of The Flight of the Concords and the collective works of Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), The Breaker Upperers is an uproariously funny romantic comedy that just about manages to hide its genre tropes behind a wall of cracking one liners and endearing characters. The film is another example of the current strength of Kiwi comedy.
The Breaker Upperers follows Mel and Jen who run an agency that specialises in the breaking couples up, hired out by an unhappy member of a twosome. Trouble brews when Mel befriends the partner of a former client and falls for another.
The success of The Breaker Upperers is thanks in no small part to the duo at the film's centre. Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek, who also direct and write the proceedings, make a fabulous pair with the kind of chemistry that sparkles off the screen. But that isn't to say they are stingy with the laughs for the rest of the ensemble. Many of the best scenes are extended sequences with the duo placed in a situation which is allowed to take several left turns, throwing in an occasional surreal touch. An early standout is a meal with Jen's family that takes the broadly approachable setup and then explodes it out with a welcome slice of vulgarity. Brilliant supporting turns come from Celia Pacquola and James Rolleston as the characters who push a wedge between the duo.
The film does come undone somewhat in the final third, feeling the need to adhere far more to a happy ending than the brutally funny and refreshingly cynical opening. You wish the film had held its nerve but can't begrudge it for wanting to end on a sweet note. Certainly for much of the running time The Breaker Upperers is a delightful Kiwi gem, its silliness nicely offsetting the somewhat acidic taste the film leads with. Certainly it marks out Sami and van Beek as the talents they have emerged as on the
This is a London Film Festival preview and The Breaker Upperers will be released at a later date.