2016 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

The claws are out when two former college friends - smugly entitled, wine-swigging Veronica (Sandra Oh) and resentful struggling artist Ashley (Anne Heche) - meet at a cocktail party...and wind up brawling on the stairs. Veronica ends up in a coma for two years and when she comes to realises to her horror that things have changed. Then it's Ashley's turn. Bleakly hilarious satire, happy to throw below-the-belt punches at an America that has become a very dangerous place.

Director

  • Onur Tukel

Cast

  • Sandra Oh

  • Anne Heche

  • Alicia Silverstone

  • Justin Ahdoot

  • Tituss Burgess

  • Dylan Baker

  • Ariel Kavoussi

Review

Director Onur Tukel's splendidly black satire proves that hell hath a fury more than a woman scorned. Two women scorned.

The two ladies in question are Veronica and Ashley.

The former is an entitled Manhattanite who airily dismisses art (apparently it's not a "real thing") while slugging red wine and proving to be a social liability for her slimy husband, who does something lucratively odious for the Defence department.

The latter is a frustrated "angry" Brooklyn artist who impotently rails against the system while sponging off her long-suffering partner (Silverstone, excellent) who, as the "more masculine" should foot the household bills.

They were both once college friends until falling out when Ashley came out and have not met until Veronica attends a gruesome party where old enmities resurface and they end up slugging eight bells out of each other on the stairs.

Veronica winds up in a coma for two years and when she emerges she learns to her horror that she is skint and her family is no more. Ashley, meanwhile, is now a world-renowned artist with her daubs acclaimed as a reflection of the world war currently raging.

With their roles reversed, it's not long before the gruesome twosome are at each other's throats again, this time at an insufferable gallery exhibition where their brutal ruck is mistaken for performance art by the clueless bohemians attending.

This time it's Ashley's turn to spend two years unconscious and when she emerges it's to a terrified as opposed to brave new world and a humiliating obligation to rely on the charity of others.

Hard-hitting doesn't quite do justice to the physical scenes in this bleak comedy as the fight set-pieces make the anaemic dust-ups in the Marvel universe look like a low-grade spat in a kindergarten playground.

However, bone-breaking satirical blows are landed elsewhere. Contemporary America in all its gung-ho glory get a severe kicking while more precise targets are also in the director's scattergun sights, from insufferable mothers to affordable health care.

It's a highly enjoyable experience to watch these cats' fur really fly.

Tim Evans