Review by Louise Keller:
You know that song where the lyric goes ‘If you want a future, baby, go out and get a past’? Well, what do you do if you’ve had a colourful past? Do you embrace it or reject it? Interesting question.
For the two former groupies in The Banger Sisters, who counted their rock conquests by an unorthodox methodology, their decisions couldn’t be more different, but the moral is loud and clear – never stop being who you are. Write a great script and direct it yourself is what Bob Dolman has done, and the result is a funny, moving and satisfying story about two women whose colourful shared past impacts in more ways than one.
It’s an explosive mix of superlative performances with Goldie Hawn centre stage in a role that simply dazzles. If you’ve got it flaunt it, and Hawn flaunts it all – the hair, the kookie smile, the oversize breasts and the whole sweet catastrophe. She is sensational, exuding the extroverted comic brashness for which she is so well known, but belying a sensitive soft spot that oozes vulnerability.
Susan Sarandon is superb as the conservative and uptight family martyr, who has buried her soul deep in her beige wardrobe. Her sense of duty and notion of the ‘perfect life’ has caused her to overlook one vital thing – her real self, which we rediscover with her. Hawn and Sarandon are Thelma and Louise of the rock era, and it’s a treat to watch these two strong women make magic together. The irony of Hawn’s daughter Kate Hudson’s recent role in Almost Famous is not lost, and the integration of a funky, toe-tapping soundtrack forms a textured backdrop for the film’s setting.
Wonderful casting of Geoffrey Rush, who injects a feeling of compelling desperation into the obsessive, eccentric, failed writer who has lost the will to continue what he sees as an uphill struggle. Until you see them together, you may think it’s an unlikely match, but Rush and Hawn make such an interesting couple, and the development of their complicated relationship is handled with a complex richness and insightful truthfulness. Scene stealing performances by Erika Christensen and Eva Amurri (Sarandon’s real-life daughter), who each inhabit such real personas as the two daughters who do and don’t seek attention.
The devil’s in the detail, they say. And there are plenty of devilish delights to savour, including a cute running gag with the hotel desk clerk. Of course things really hot up when the two Banger Sisters hit the night spots and let their hair down – or cut it off, in Vinnie’s case. But it’s the scene of Suzette and Vinnie watching the world go by from the heights of a super-size billboard high above the street that epitomises the film for me. The song playing in the background? ‘I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.’ The Banger Sisters delivers a bang-up good time.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Talk about getting bangs for your buck! Don’t miss a second of the opening moments of The Banger Sisters, because every second counts – and works. Goldie Hawn’s Suzette and Geoffrey Rush’s Harry are introduced to us in one of the most satisfying openings to a film, and we know the subject matter is going to provide many opportunities for cliché or crackle. Happily, it’s all crackle, as the premise is unwound.
Hawn and Sarandon are perfectly matched as the Banger Sisters of the title – an appellation earned infamously, as you’ll discover. But the film’s strength – apart from exceptionally energetic and truthful performances – is in the writing. The script dares to go places of great sensitivity with as much brio as a mainstream production company will allow. And in this case, it’s quite a deep delve. There are a multitude of great moments one on top of the other, many of them so bizarre as to be taken from real life, where truth always outshines fiction on the bizarre scale.
Rush makes a challenging role work by sheer force of talent and technique; Hawn is raw honesty and Sarandon is controlled fire. Spirited and inspired, The Banger Sisters is a wonderfully observed, freshly inventive human drama told as a grown up comedy with some uproarious moments and outstanding performances. Unnecessarily schmalzy at the end, though. But even that is forgiven, as the film shows such a big heart – it doesn’t have the heart to be anything but upbeat (sorry) at the end.