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Perfect Sisters (Review)

A thought-provoking look at matricide.

Producer Stanley Brooks has turned his hand to directing with Perfect Sisters, his first film in as many months, with his second being the Lifetime TV movie, The Grim Sleeper, a biographical thriller. Although I haven't seen the director's second film, after seeing the impressive debut, Perfect Sisters, I may actually go out of my way to watch it. There were a couple of minor issues I had with the film, like the way we see the girls, Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth (Georgie Henley), fantasize about the way they'd like their mother, Linda (Mira Sorvino), to be in real life, or one scene where the girls are unpacking, yet again, and the camera is sped up, giving an unnecessaraly comedic look to the shot. But, as mentioned, they were only small items that ultimately didn't detract from my overall enjoyment.

Playing Linda, mom to the two girls and a younger brother, was Oscar-winner, Mira Sorvino, who easily handled the role of the alcoholic mother who is incapable of holding down a job, and has had a string of abusive boyfriends who've physically hurt not only herself, but have even attempted to sexually abuse the young girls. The younger of the girls, Beth, was played by Georgie Henley, who most will know from The Chronicles of Narnia franchise. Henley appeared to have taken a 4-year break from acting since making the last Narnia film in 2010, but she's back better than before, giving a strong performance, showing Breslin and she had good on-screen chemistry.

Perfect Sisters
Directed by Stanley M. Brooks
Cast Abigail Breslin, Georgie Henley, Mira Sorvino, James Russo
Release Date 11 April 2014
Nav's Grade: A

Ever since seeing Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, where she received a well-deserved Oscar-nomination, I've managed to catch a lot of her films and have always been impressed by the young actress who hasn't put a foot wrong. Her acting was once again extremely good, with a powerful performance, where we see her begin to act like her alcoholic mother as she begins to break down and take in the gravity of what she's done.

Sandra and Beth are teenage girls who are extremely close as they've needed each other's support thanks to never settling down in one place for very long and having to suffer their mother's abusive boyfriends. After Linda ends up in another abusive relationship and also loses her job, then her sister Martha (Rusty Schwimmer) refuses to give the family financial help, the girls hatch a plan to kill Linda in the hope their life improves. The girls involve two school friends then follow-through with the plan by giving Linda a load of sleeping pills then drowning her in the bath. After seemingly getting away with the murder, they move in with aunt Martha but soon Sandra begins to party a lot and get drunk, then confess to anyone who'll listen about what really happened with her mother. It doesn't take long for the police to become involved.

Perfect Sisters doesn't try to moralize, take sides or blame anyone, but it did show the sisters in a sympathetic light. Linda's new boyfriend tries to molest Beth, pushing the sisters closer to the edge, and we see the way the girls sometimes live in a fantasy world, where they even have their own language. Brooks' handling of the issue of two young desperate girls murdering their mother, was good but I felt he could have examined the girl's mental state when committing the murder a bit more, perhaps enabling us to try to understand why anyone would be driven to such a heinous act, but this is less social commentary and more drama.

The superb performances by Breslin and Henley were key to the impact Perfect Sisters had, with Mira Sorvino also giving a convincing turn as a failed mother, whose alcohol abuse and choice of men have helped push her daughters away. I really enjoyed Perfect Sisters from start to finish and strongly recommend this film to anyone who likes true stories. We learn the outcome of Beth and Sandra at the end of the film, where the leniency shown may surprise some of you.

Review by Nav Qateel

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