Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breaking the Girls (2013): Wild Bores

Breaking the Girls (2013)
dir: Jamie Babbitt

Jamie Babbitt is the lesbian director of But I'm a Cheerleader, one of the more celebrated flawed movies of the "love us" gay film movement. Guinevere Turner is the co-writer of Go Fish and American Psycho. Together, they made a trashy thriller about lesbian killers. This sounds better than it ended up being.

Breaking the Girls is a take on the criss-cross killer pattern of Strangers on a Train, Hitchcock's queer classic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel. But, Turner and Babbitt are focused on making the gay even more obvious for the new generation, and end up destroying the movie in the process.

Sara Ryan is a blonde college student working at a bar who hooks up with Alex Layton, a rich raven-haired girl who is also a lesbian. Sara is chasing after Eric, who is currently dating Brooke. After being caught stealing from the tip jar, Brooke gets Sara fired from her job and also dropped from her scholarship (which...really?!). Alex then cooks up a plan to have Sara kill Alex's father, who disapproves of Alex, and Alex will kill Brooke. Because nobody will associate them with each other even though they live together.

The flaws in the first acts movie are all supposed to lead up to the twisty and turny third act in the style of Wild Things, which was the height of dimestore novel trashy sheen. But, neither Babbitt nor Turner are able to make this movie much fun. What should be a fast-paced sleazy trashy film of high gloss becomes a draggy sleazy film, hampered by the terrible acting of the actresses.

One could argue that the bad acting is purposeful because the characters are acting as well. But, in Wild Things, it didn't tip its hat that it was going to twist and turn with a litany of lies and deceptions. The audience believed that the characters were behaving in accordance with reality not with an act. But, in Breaking the Girls, either Babbitt has directed the actors/actresses to behave as if they were consciously acting out of character or the actors/actresses are just not that great.

Breaking the Girls is, thusly, an unnecessary and unintelligent twist on a queer film that's already been done. There's a purpose to trying to reclaim a trope for for a specific audience, but the film that reclaims it has to be at least half as good as the original sources. The movies that Breaking the Girls aspires to be are rather unique and excellent films that have generated acclaim or at least a cult following. In order to be half their quality still means being better than 2/3 of the films that come out, and nobody involved in the film is up to that task.

With a plot that's supposed to be convoluted, but ends up feeling fake, and pacing that even at under 100 minutes feels sluggish, Breaking the Girls pales in comparison to its predecessors. It tries, but it just doesn't try hard enough.

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