Babbit's golden-hued noir, "Breaking the Girls," takes inspiration from
Hitchcock's psychological thriller "Strangers on a Train" (itself based
on Patricia Highsmith's novel) and updates it for the texting,
it's-all-about-me generation. But this film goes further, turning the
tale into an erotic thriller with too many twists and back stories to
Sara and Alex, jokingly plot to kill the other's nemesis,
but Alex (Madeline Zima), a wealthy wild child with emotional issues,
takes it seriously. When they first meet, Alex plays seductress and
ensnares Sara (a pleasantly subtle Agnes Bruckner), a law-school student
on a scholarship whose world starts to crumble after a rival rats her
out for stealing from a tip jar at the bar where she works.
moves in with Alex, and they share a bed, but Sara's not on board for
murder; Alex, however, will do just about anything to get her way. What
follows after one dead body turns up and then another are conspiracies
and improbable turns. Ms. Babbit ("But I'm a Cheerleader") opts for
tightly focused shots and close-ups, heightening the sense of Alex and
Sara's isolation and desperation.
Savvy viewers may question a
seemingly bright Sara who makes statements like, "Don't you wish that
killing could just be legal?" In the meantime, the film does offer some
rewards: cameos by Melanie Mayron ("thirtysomething") and Davenia
McFadden, whom some may recognize from her brilliant turn as the
home-invading Grandma Ida on "Mad Men" last season.
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