Perfect Sisters stumbles through a plot of moments haphazardly strung together that sounds absolutely unrealistic — except that it’s based on the true story of the Bathtub Girls, the case that rocked Toronto in 2004.
Truth proves stranger than we’d put up with in fiction when two close-as-can-be sisters, Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth (Georgie Henley), plot to murder their alcoholic mess of a mother, Linda (Mira Sorvino), after their younger brother suffers one slap too many from her abusive boyfriend (James Russo).
Older sister Sandra plays mother to Linda and their younger brother at home, yet is the attention-seeking pathological liar at school; Beth is the Goth whose uncanny resemblance to Nancy of The Craft goes right down to the manic gaze. They come to the conclusion that euthanizing their mother would alleviate everyone’s misery (including hers).
Any potential for an in-depth examination of the adolescent psyche pushed to its limits goes unmet, though not for lack of trying.
Stanley M. Brooks’s directorial debut’s attempt to make sense of what happened falters by laboring to tick every item off the timeline checklist instead of focusing on who these Bathtub Girls were underneath the dysfunction. Without that who, we can’t comprehend the extent of the why.
But there is fleeting beauty in the subtle gestures by the lead actresses — both departing from the charming, blissfully youthful roles that put them on the map — especially when the story pauses to hone in on the sisters’ uniquely strong bond, which is unmarred by awkwardly staged scenes at a house party or their shared, oddly glowing imagined iteration of Linda as a perfect mother.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 9, 2014