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America has a new president. He’s hell-bent on stripping away healthcare insurance, and plunging the country into another Middle-Eastern war. Sounds familiar, right?
This is the backdrop for writer-director Onur Tukel’s bizarre black-comedy-drama with a thick vein of satire, which sees two women’s lives turned upside down following a fistfight.
In the blue corner, we have Sandra Oh’s wine-guzzling, Republican trophy wife, who sneers at her teenage son’s creative aspirations; in the red corner, Anne Heche’s weed-smoking, struggling artist, who despite all her rage is still just a rat in a cage.
The old college buddies haven’t seen each other in 20 years, but their unexpected reunion at a cocktail party escalates from slurs and snide remarks into a brutal battle that changes their fortunes – one for the better, the other for worse. Two years later, they meet again for round two, and the results are swapped.
The characters are little more than stereotypes – conduits for social commentary, essentially – and both equally hateful and obnoxious. Tukel doesn’t root for either side, with left and right jabs at both ends of the socio-political spectrum. He lays the satire on thick with occasionally hilarious results, but the emotional punches don’t land as often, instead glancing off the absurd tragedies and farcical supporting characters.
Both actresses are equally matched with committed and enjoyable performances, although Oh is given more opportunity to bring sensitivity and nuance to some heavy-handed writing.
The fight scenes are choreographed and performed with surprising violence, and there is a tragicomic novelty in seeing two respected actresses knock seven bells out of each other. But there’s also a nihilism to the film that makes for a distant watch; a sense that whoever wins, we all lose.
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