Breaking The Girls
Director Jamie Babbit ("But I’m a Cheerleader") and screenwriters Mark Distefano and Guinevere Turner ("American Psycho," "The Notorious Bettie Page") attempt to revamp the Hitchcock classic "Strangers on a Train" for the teenage lesbian set. "Breaking the Girls" is an admirably brave and noble effort, but not an entirely successful one. The movie starts out fine, but veers way over the edge in the latter half.
Agnes Bruckner ("Murder by Numbers") plays Sara, a young, smart, presumably straight law student who tends bar at a local watering hole in order to make ends meet and pay for school. Unfortunately for her, in comes Alex Layton (Madeline Zima -- the youngest child from "The Nanny," officially shattering that image), a rich, spoiled, obvious nut job with legs for days who immediately zeros in on the unsuspecting Sara. The offer to drive a wasted Alex home from the bar one night leads to a typically SoCal movie friendship between Sara and Alex, complete with sun-filtered running-through-fields sequences set to angst-y pop music. Alex, however, has clearly been infatuated with Sara from day one, and after some innocent experimentation, Sara succumbs to her heretofore unrealized Sapphic side.
One evening while sharing some girl time, Alex voices a thought: Wouldn’t it be great if her bitch of a stepmother, Nina (Alex’s former lover who is now married to her stepfather), were out of the picture? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be great if Brooke, a mean girl who previously had squealed on Sara for dipping into the tip jar at work, leading to her firing, were gone too? Not taking her friend seriously, Sara concurs, which proves to be a fatal mistake. Cue Hitchcock.
Bruckner and Zima are intelligent young actresses and probably too talented for this material. Some of Sara’s actions are just so dumb (like scooping up a murder weapon at the scene of a crime, allowing her fingerprints to get all over it), you can’t help but virtually scream at her. Alex isn’t much better, skulking around her mansion in skimpy bathing suits that shout, "I’m the Bad Girl!" Yet Bruckner and Zima throw themselves into their roles and sell them as much as possible. Babbit and Turner don’t display any of the wit and social critique that distinguished both of their respective earlier efforts. Both seem satisfied releasing a wannabe twisty thriller that has Late Night Logo written all over it.
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