The Breaker Upperers

Breakups -
fake cops -
The Breaker Upperers is breaking down barriers
Madeleine Sami,
Jackie van Beek
Madeleine Sami,
Jackie van Beek
Madeleine Sami,
Jackie van Beek,
James Rolleston,
Celia Pacquola,
Rima Te Wiata,
Cohen Holloway
Run time
90 minutes
Piki Films,
Miss Conception Films,
Bespoke Post
Distribution Date
May 03, 2018

I managed to score a free ticket to the premiere of The Breaker Upperers through my friend and talented film director, Rachel Ross (you can read about some of her work here). She is a part of Women in Film and Television NZ, who hosted the event. 

The premiere was awesome for a number of reasons:

1. The movie was beyond hilarious. So much so that I went to see it AGAIN a week later.
2. I got to hang with my cool friend.
3. I was swimming amongst at least a hundred or more extraordinary women who were a part of this movement.
4. There was free champagne.
5. Jackie van Beek (What We Do in The Shadows) and Madeleine Sami (Sione’s Wedding), co-writers and co-directors of The Breaker Upperers (who also star in it – talk about multi-tasking), did an interview after the movie! They talked about stuff like how great it was doing a sex scene as a woman in a room full of movie crew who were also women, rather than the usual room full of men.

They also talked about wanting talented people on set, regardless of their life situation – specifically, mothers. Van Beek and Sami created a culture of flexibility and understanding so that they could draw on talent that would otherwise be overlooked because of ‘inconvenience’. Heck, Sami herself has a six-month-old baby and that didn’t stop her!

In this particular bag of laughs, Mel (Sami) and Jen (van Beek) are two women who run a business breaking up relationships for people who can’t do it themselves. Break up packages include ‘The Other Woman’ package right through to the ‘Missing Person’ package, for those who reeeally want a clean break.

Mel ends up falling for a ‘younger man,’ Jordan (James Rolleston, Boy, Pork Pie), who comes in for ‘The Other Woman’ option. When the break up doesn’t go to plan, Mel and Jen are forced to contend with his ‘delicate flower’ of a girlfriend (Ana Scotney) who threatens to beat them to a pulp. 

Mel and Jen are cynical and bitter about love, having met through a man who was cheating on both of them. But they have each other. One of the coolest things about The Breaker Upperers is that although the story is about romantic relationships, that’s not the main event – Mel and Jen’s friendship is. Which is so refreshing. Van Beek and Sami turn norms upside-down by giving their friendship as much importance, if not more, as their romantic relationships. 

So often I have found myself frustrated when romantic relationships are put on a pedestal and romanticized (funny, that) in the media, while all the other kinds of important relationships are portrayed as second-best. I realized how distorted this was the hard way – after focusing solely on a romance and isolating myself from most of my friendships. Then when I separated from my partner I was left thinking, wait a minute. In reality, there is no hierarchy. All relationships are important.

The Breaker Upperers is a buffet of color, fun, and delightfully cringe-worthy Kiwi humor. It is chock-full of party buses, surprisingly skillful dancing, experimental kissing, karaoke, fake cops pretending to be strippers, punch ups, serenading, and all kinds of people. It’s a glorious cocktail. And a much more accurate representation of our rainbow-esque culture than most screens show. And I love that.

About the Contributor

Alana is a lover of poetry, peanut butter and punctuation (oh, and alliteration). She joined Narrative Muse because getting to read and watch empowering books and movies is hard work, but someone’s got to do it. She spent most of her childhood traveling in Europe and Asia because her parents were travel-crazed, but now she calls New Zealand home.