This low-budget indie is a gem of a movie. Snarky, intelligent, moving dialogue reins free in Your Sister’s Sister, giving the actors much to work with and play off each other. The movie’s first scene is at a party that takes place on the anniversary of a death, where we witness Jack (Mark Duplass) deliver a cringe worthy toast that gets derailed and ends up being not a tribute to but a condemnation of his dead brother. Jack has had a bad year since his brother died, and alcohol and public speaking do not mix. His best friend Iris – who also happens to be the dead brother’s ex-girlfriend (Emily Blunt) – takes him aside to humorously, but firmly, employ him to get it together. Iris has fared far better after the brother’s death – they had in fact broken up prior to his passing.
Iris’ brilliant idea is to loan Jack the family lake house, to which he must take a ferry and ride a bike – some alone time, with room to think, might heal some wounds. Iris will not be joining him, as that would defeat the whole purpose. But he isn’t the only one with wounds, apparently. When he arrives, he observes Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) tooling around the kitchen not fully dressed. As she is not expecting him nor he her, nor have they met, this leads to some mayhem/accusations of peeping. The physicality of that scene on the porch is well done. Hannah is Iris’ sister, and she has fled to the lake house to lick her wounds after breaking up with her female partner of seven years.
The movie does not give a lot of back story for these characters, but if you’re paying attention, little nuggets are revealed, such as why the heck one sister has an American accent and the other (Blunt) has a British one. Apparently they are half sisters who are ten years apart and Iris obviously spent her formative years in England. The audience gets the point that dear old dad owns the lake house, but we don’t get a sense as to where it is – somewhere off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. It’s fall, it’s chilly, and the colors are splendid. If you’re doing some soul-searching, this would be the perfect setting. Since we don’t have a lot of back story to worry about, the movie can really focus on the characters’ relationships in the here and now. We don’t know much about the dead brother/ex-boyfriend, or the partner Hannah has finally escaped.
Your Sister’s Sister has the feel of a weekend shoot the actors embarked upon, complete with some improvisation. That style of acting/dialogue allows for some particularly natural rhythms, and they all just click. The audience feels the intimacy they share, and cringe and laugh along with them. There is much to not give away about this movie, though the plot line is not complicated, but in order to experience it the way the director seems to have intended, I will not give away too much – everyone who watches it should experience it as a journey along with the actors. The ending will cause groans or chuckles, depending on your tolerance for abrupt/surprise endings, but it wasn’t the real ending to me. The trio had already decided how they stood in their relationships to one another, regardless of a certain outcome.
Release Date: June 29th, 2012
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia, Mike Harring, and James Dodson
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton