Perfect Sisters has some good features but that doesn’t mean it’s free from flaws. The film is based on a real life story, a case involving two Canadian sisters who performed matricide. But despite being based on a true crime story, this film is often unbelievable, flippant and lacking in emotion and tension.
The movie is an adaptation of a book by Bob Mitchell, The Class Project: How to Kill a Mother: The True Story of Canada’s Infamous Bathtub Girls and it also marks the directorial debut of Stanley M. Brooks, who is known for being a producer. The result is something that blends together fantasy, a family drama, a social melodrama and a comedy. So what could have been an intense, haunting and disturbing feature instead seems to take a more superficial middle ground where the plot is all a little too conveniently stitched up.
The story goes that Linda Anderson (Mira Sorvino) is an alcoholic, party-loving deadbeat of a mother. She fails to hold down a steady job and allows her daughters to be subjected to her string of violent and abusive boyfriends in order to pay the rent. Her most recent beau, Steve Bowman (James Russo) is no exception and even makes sexual advances towards her youngest daughter.
The sisters do have each other though. Beth (Georgie Henley (The Chronicles Of Narnia)) and Sandra (Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine)) have an almost co-dependent relationship. It is also obvious that these two young actresses have a clear, on-screen chemistry that will convince audiences that they are really siblings.
Eventually the girls tire of their miserable and dysfunctional home lives (especially after requests for outside help are ignored) and they joke about killing their irresponsible mother. They believe they can make it all look like an accident. In the film the girls are made to look like victims (they are even shown fantasizing about an “idealised” mum) in a series of strange vignettes but the worst of these is the insensitive and out of place one where they imagine killing their mother in various different scenarios. In real life and in media reports, the sisters seemed a lot more cold-blooded and ruthless, they enjoyed spending a huge insurance payout after the death and seemed less concerned with bettering themselves and their dreary lives (at least at the time).
This film suffers from an unfocused and forced script as well as voiceovers and montages that detract away from the real, stranger-than-fiction story. Ultimately this makes for a plodding film that feels more like a television special. Perfect Sisters is at least redeemed in the final act by a series of interesting and gripping events but the whole thing feels like a bunch of missed opportunities and people trying to salvage things that were way beyond repair.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Perfect Sisters is released on DVD and Blu-ray through Anchor Entertainment from September 10.