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Review: Flawed 'Perfect Sisters' at least has some good performances

EntertainmentMoviesReviewsAbigail BreslinJames RussoGeorgie Henley

Growing up before moviegoers' eyes, Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") and Georgie Henley ("The Chronicles of Narnia") enter true-crime territory as murderous siblings in the bumpy ride that is "Perfect Sisters."

The film owes whatever persuasiveness it has to the teen leads' sharp performances — their sisterly chemistry and their filial friction with an alcohol-addled mother, well played by Mira Sorvino.

Screenwriters Fabrizio Filippo and Adam Till draw upon the so-called Bathtub Girls — Canadian honor students whose trial for matricide grabbed headlines in the mid-2000s — to examine the months leading up to and following the crime. The openness of the high-schoolers' plotting gives the story a disorienting edge, as a seemingly offhand lunchroom remark morphs into full-fledged brainstorming with their friends on how best to kill Mom.

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Sorvino plays Linda, a mess who can hold it together long enough to land but not keep a job. She also plays Perfect Mom, the fruit of her daughters' shared imagination. It's a stylistic leap that might have worked better if more of the movie were as bold.

Stanley M. Brooks, a longtime producer making his directing debut, succeeds only occasionally at blending social drama with dark comic elements. A number of small performances are strangely wooden, and James Russo plays Linda's latest abusive boyfriend with a charmlessness so blatant that it's distracting.

There are no false steps, though, from a full-tilt-vampy Breslin and a gothed-out Henley. Embodying an intense bond forged in a domestic horror show, they give their well-written dialogue a smart-girl sting, and they give the movie its truest and most scathing moments.

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"Perfect Sisters"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Playing: Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood. Also on VOD

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