Film Review: ‘Perfect Sisters’

Perfect Sisters Review

A cartoonish and crudely staged dramatization of a disturbing true crime.

Ineffectual and cartoonish, “Perfect Sisters” dramatizes a case that shocked Canada a decade ago, when two teenage girls killed their alcoholic mother in order to be free of the chaos wrought by her perpetual irresponsibility — a well-planned crime that several of their classmates knew about before it happened. TV producer Stan Brooks’ first directorial feature provides scant psychological depth, drawing its characters and staging their incidents in crude fashion, despite superficial production gloss. A limited U.S. theatrical launch April 11 is unlikely to significantly heighten visibility for a pic already available on demand and destined primarily for smallscreen sales.

Based on Toronto Star reporter Bob Mitchell’s true-crime tome (which is purportedly far less sympathetic toward the protags), Fabrizio Filippo and Adam Till’s script introduces us to high schoolers Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth (Georgie Henley of “The Chronicles of Narnia” films) as they, along with a little brother, suffer yet another move to new digs. The cause is, once again, their divorced mom Linda (Mira Sorvino) and her penchant for the bottle, which inevitably causes her to lose jobs and get them evicted. When she acquires a new boyfriend (James Russo) to pay the bills, his abuse and general creepiness hardly improve the family’s lot beyond the realm of rent.

Figuring they might actually be better off without Mom — but with an insurance settlement — the sisters hash out potential matricidal scenarios with best friends Justin (Jeffrey Ballard) and Ashley (Zoe Belkin), though whispers quickly spread beyond that close circle. Nonetheless, the real-life figures (whose names aren’t used here, since they were still minors when convicted) managed to pass the deed off as an accidental death for a time. They remain controversial figures in Canada, since they were incarcerated for only a few years each and subsequently attended universities on scholarship.

The unimaginative telepic tenor is varied — but not improved — by broad bits in which Sorvino plays various caricatured “ideal” mother figures. Mixing the heroines’ puerile fantasies with their much-less-than-ideal reality is a potentially interesting idea, but “Perfect Sisters” is no “Heavenly Creatures,” to say the least. Nor does the cliched dialogue or just-OK cast (in which Henley comes closest to creating a rounded character) help ground disturbing events in a credible everyday milieu a la “Razor’s Edge” and other fact-inspired tales of teen homicide. Still, the pic somewhat improves in its last third, when the deed is done and the girls prove very poorly equipped to keep their secret.

Shot in Winnipeg (the actual events took place in Mississauga, Ontario), the pic is competent but rather flavorless in all tech/design departments.

Film Review: 'Perfect Sisters'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, April 10, 2014. Running time: 101 MIN.

Production

(Canada) A Gravitas Pictures release (in Canada/U.S.) of a Stan & Deliver Films presentation of a Julijette production. Produced by Juliette Hagopian, Damian Ganczewski. Executive producers, Michael Rotenberg, Cathy Rollo, Tony Rollo. Co-producer, Fritzi Horstman.

Crew

Directed by Stan Brooks. Screenplay, Fabrizio Filippo, Adam Till, based on the book “The Class Project: How to Kill a Mother, the True Story of Canada’s Infamous Bathtub Girls” by Bob Mitchell. Camera (color, HD), Stephanie Weber-Biron; editor, Robin Katz; music, Carmen Rizzo; music supervisors, Mary Ramos, Holly Adams; production designer, Gord Wilding; costume designer, Noreen Landry; art director, Scott Rossell; sound, Stan Mak; re-recording mixer, Cory Mandel; supervising sound editor, Nelson Ferreira; assistant director, Ronaldo Nacionales; casting, Shana Landburg, Stephanie Gorin.

With

Abigail Breslin, Georgie Henley, Mira Sorvino, James Russo, Rusty Schwimmer, Zoe Belkin, Jeffrey Ballard, Jonathan Malen, Stephan James, Zak Santiago, Caleb Pederson, Braden Pederson.

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  1. Chula says:

    This was a very well done movie, the acting deserves a Grammy award, very intense, hits home, because I personally know of two sisters that have gone thru the same kind of drama, they are amazing girls, with a high potential, and their mom adore them, yet have made same similar decisions, they have been awarded to the state, and in foster parenting few times, yet given to the mom again! These two sisters are as close, and couple of years apart, and they take care of their reckless moms decisions, that overtime have had a burning in their lives…I personally think these movie could certainly hit home for them, yet as those girls, it would me not possible to imagine crossing that fine line… It is so sad, but the story is not an unusual one for what children go thru, with mothers that are raising kids, and challenge by their drug choices, and bad relationships with abusive men. Wow, I feel like I know those girls, my heart goes out to them, evidently the system failed them when they had a chance to rescue them, and can’t even imagine what they went thru being apart from the only thing they knew of each other’s support and love. I am not saying it was ok what they did, obviously, they suffered for going thru with their fantasy, and getting their minute fame of attention, encouragement, and acceptance with their peers, and so call friends.. Very confusing age. I wish they get to be reunited in love, and rebuilt there lives, and put the past behind for good. God bless them for they were truly alone.

  2. 3. Le coup de main pour un bon macaronnage Souvent, des petites bulles peuvent se former sur la coque des macarons et, en plus d\’être peu esthétiques, elles sont synonymes d\’un mauvais macaronnage. C\’est à dire que le mélange entre les oeufs battus et la poudre d\’amande sucre n\’a pas correctement pris. Pour pallier à ce problème, Mercotte nous indique que, \”malgré ce que l\’on croit, il ne faut pas hésiter à casser (modérément tout de même) les blancs montés en neige en y incorporant le mélange poudre d\’amandes sucre en effectuant un mouvement de bas en haut en partant du centre\”.

  3. Je me demande quel programme choisir et quelle intensité, j\’imagine qu\’il vaut mieux le faire le plus possible sur une semaire (5 fois par semaine minimum) et intensité forte sinon cela ne marche pas.

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