Film Review - THE BREAK-UP.jpg

Film Review – THE BREAK-UP

This probably won’t break your heart

LAST YEAR, we had one half of the Pitt-Aniston partnership starring in a film, where the lead characters were romantically involved on-screen as well as off; this year, we have the other half. Jennifer Aniston, the ex Mrs Pitt, stars alongside Vince Vaughn in The Break-Up, but, in reality, the two are far from break-up status, following Pitt and Jolie into the world of romance, coupledom and lots and lots of media attention.

The movie stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston as Gary and Brooke, the perfect couple in the perfect relationship. The movie begins promisingly, with Gary letting rip with his ladies’ man routine, with a bemused Brooke falling for it. A quick trip through cohabital bliss follows, before a spat over dirty dishes has them at loggerheads, with all the problems pouring out in one huge argument.

Brooke thinks Gary is a thoughtless slob, who never goes anywhere with her, never helps out around the house and would rather lie on the couch in his underwear playing video games than do the dishes. Gary thinks Brooke is too controlling, too rigid and doesn’t appreciate him. She breaks-up with him, but neither is willing to move out of the apartment they co-own. So, they stake out their territory and try to figure out ways to drive the other person off the premises.

Brooke’s tactics of being picked up at home by a series of handsome studs, almost works, while Gary’s hiring of prostitutes to join his friends in a strip-poker game, surprisingly, fails dismally.

The best supporting performance is by Vincent D’Onofrio, as Gary’s older brother. He does exactly what is required, finds the right notes and is so convincing we hardly notice he cleans his ears with separate handkerchiefs. In fact, most of the best set-pieces come from the supporting characters – John Michael Higgins as Brooke’s not-fooling-anyone closeted gay brother, Joey Lauren Adams as Brooke’s married best pal, Anne-Margaret as Brooke’s mother, Cole Hauser as Gary’s younger brother, and the delightful Judy Davis as Brooke’s boss, a brittle art gallery owner.

However, for a movie with the romantic comedy label, there’s surprisingly little romance, and even less comedy. Director Peyton Reed couldn’t decide what he wanted the film to be; a comedy, a romance, or a drama, and it ends up being a little of all three, but not very good as any of them.

You need to like the couple and want them to succeed for the movie to work. Although you are sorry that the two break-up, you don’t want them back together, you want them to end their misery. Furthermore, while making the man the bad guy is a staple of romantic comedies, The Break-Up would have been better served by giving Brooke equal blame for the failure of their relationship.

Hype and expectation are likely to be the film’s biggest enemies, as it does not deliver what the advance publicity promised. The Break-Up fails to satisfy on any of the many levels on which it could have succeeded. It is an uneven mess with a confused tone, where the number of scenes that work are dwarfed by those that don’t, and some good acting by Aniston is wasted.