Breaking the Girls (NR)

By Ernest Hardy
There's something wonderfully retro about Breaking the Girls, the latest film from gingerly subversive director Jamie Babbit (But I'm a Cheerleader; Itty Bitty Titty Committee), and it’s only partly to do with the film's sapphic twist on Hitchcock's (and Patricia Highsmith's) Strangers on a Train. In this moment of federally sanctioned queer marriage, and the tapioca banality of much of the art produced by what used to be called queer culture, Babbit, working from a screenplay by indie-lesbian icon Guinevere Turner and Mark Distefano, digs into the discarded bag of tricks from New Queer Cinema to embrace a controversial trope-- the queer as psycho-killer-- that was also long a staple of homophobic cultural fare. When hetero working-class law student Sara (Agnes Bruckner) meets rich, darkly free-spirited lesbian Alex (Madeline Zima), there's a spark that one as interprets as the beginning of a friendship, and the other reads as much more. After a drunken one-night stand and an exchange of backstories, Alex manipulates Sara into a murderous deal: I'll kill your foe, and you'll kill mine. What follows is a decently acted, often drolly funny, tautly directed thriller that proves to be a Russian doll of motivations, coincidences, and plot-twists; it would have been more satisfying if it weren't so unnecessarily convoluted.
Jamie Babbit Sam Anderson, Shawn Ashmore, Agnes Bruckner Mark Distefano, Guinevere Turner IFC Films


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