Movie Review – The Breaker Upperers


When two women cynically in love, run a business of breaking-up unhappy couples, The Breaker Upperers is what you get. Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek come together to direct and act in this ripping comedy, a refreshing flavour of New Zealand’s upbeat comic sense. Breaking-up has never been so comical!

Hurt in love, two best friends Jen (Jackie van Beek) and Mel (Madeleine Sami) partner as the break-up agents for those who are unhappy in a relationship but do not have the courage to break up. They take on stunts like announcing the partner dead, or moved away or even pretending pregnancy; just about anything to make sure the ‘current’ becomes the ‘ex’. All is good in The Breaker Upperers world until Jordan arrives.


Jordon (James Rolleston) is The Breaker Upperers’ newest client. An 18-year-old rugby enthusiast, Jordan wants Jen and Mel to help him break-up with his difficult and volatile girlfriend Sepa (Ana Scotney), who is unable to understand that he has been suggesting a break-up through emojis. The teen boy is attracted to Mel almost instantly, and that is bad news for Jen who feels threatened.

In another situation, Annie (Celia Pacquola), who is told her husband drowned, is mourning endlessly, believing that he is dead and not partying in some far off land. Mel’s empathy with Annie is further alarming for Jen who dreads losing her only friend. The film has a brief moment of moral reflection and a testing time for Mel and Jen’s friendship towards the end. The film ends on a soft happy note, breaking into a dance sequence for the credits roll.


With Taika Waititi at the helm as the Executive Producer, Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami who have co-written, co-directed and co-acted in the film have taken comedy to another level. Beek and Sami have been credited with comic skills and acting talents in their short but noticeable roles in Eagle vs Shark, Sione’s Wedding, Funny Girls and Super City. They outshine as writers and directors with The Breaker Upperers, a simple story of love and friendship coated with oodles of laughter, humour, and subdued sarcasm. For instance, Jordon suggesting break-up with a broken-heart and thunder emojis is a witty take on love and relationships in modern times.

The Breaker Upperers is a piece of brilliance from New Zealand cinema. Outstanding performance by the entire cast, The Breaker Upperers can be credited for excellent comic timing, amusing dialogues, brisk screenplay. There are hilarious moments, there are chuckling moments, there are teary moments, there are sermonising moments, and there are musical moments, but there is never a dull moment.


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