- Starring: Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia, Rosemarie DeWitt
- Summary: Your Sister's Sister is a new comedy about romance, grief and sibling rivalry. A year after his brother Tom's death, Jack is still struggling emotionally. When he makes a scene at a memorial party, Tom's best friend Iris offers up her family cabin on an island in the Pacific Northwest so Jack can seek catharsis in solitude. Once there, however, he runs into Iris' sister Hannah who is reeling from the abrupt end of a seven-year relationship and finds solace in Tom's unexpected presence. A blurry evening of drinking concludes with an awkward sexual incident, made worse by Iris' sudden presence at the cabin the next morning. A twisted tale of ever-complicated relationships is set in motion with raw, hilarious and emotional performances from the all-star cast. (IFC Films)… Expand
- Director: Lynn Shelton
- Genre(s): Drama, Comedy
- More Details and Credits »
"Lynn Shelton"...get used to hearing the name of the Seattle-based writer/director/producer/actor, because if her newest work is any indication, she's got a very bright filmmaking career ahead of her. Her fourth film and the follow-up to 2009's acclaimed Humpday, Your Sister's Sister is one of the smartest, most engaging relationship dramas (laced with charming humour) I've ever seen. Yes, it's that good.
The story doesn't exactly jump off the page, perhaps reading as the type of standard chick flick material that audiences have seen over and over again, with a subdued tone and pace that some viewers might find challenging. The magic in the film lies with the honesty and naturalism that Shelton derives from her characters and their interplay, delivered by equally outstanding performances from the three leads who improvised about 75% of their words. Emily Blunt plays Iris, the best friend of Jack (played by Mark Duplass) and the former girlfriend of Jack's brother, who died roughly a year before the movie begins. Jack, who's unemployed, just can't seem to get out of his mourning funk, so Iris encourages him (practically forces him, actually) to spend some time at her father's cabin on an island in Puget Sound. Jack takes her up on the offer and, upon arriving at the remote cabin, finds a houseguest already there. That would be Hannah, Iris' sister (played by Rosemary DeWitt), who is also seeking a little solitude to clear her head after just ending a seven year lesbian relationship. Mix a bottle of tequila with some bad judgement and the pair end up having awkward sex. The following day, Iris unexpectedly shows up, thus setting in motion the complex triangular dynamic that forms the core of the film.
Blunt, DeWitt, and Duplass have an immediate, winning chemistry with each other and they'd better. Aside from its first fifteen or so minutes, the film almost exclusively features just the three actors on screen and most of that time is spent within the four cabin walls, which gives the film a very intimate theatrical feel. DeWitt and Blunt, in particular, find a familiarity and comfort with one another that successfully sells us on their sisterhood, despite the curious fact that Iris has an English accent and Hannah an American one. I loved that Shelton holds off on revealing the reason for the accent discrepancy until well into the film, as the puzzling detail just kind of hangs there in an intriguing and only mildly nagging way. It might seem like an odd creative choice on Shelton's part, but it actually stems from the fact that Rachel Weisz, a Brit, was originally supposed to play Hannah before pulling out at the last minute. DeWitt, usually one of the best things in anything I've ever seen her in (especially her work on Showtime's United States Of Tara), deserves even more credit for her performance, considering the lack of preparation she had before jumping into the movie's lean twelve day shooting schedule. Along with Shelton's work, another major revelation taken from the film is Duplass, who I'd never heard of. He proves more than capable of handling the movie's demanding dramatic material, while also demonstrating a real flair for its comedic requirements via his goofy charm. And it turns out that like his director, Duplass also writes, directs, and produces films with his brother, Jay. Their latest movie, Jeff, Who Lives At Home, premiered at last year's TIFF.
The film's soundtrack deserves special mention. Composed by Vince Smith (who handled all aspects of sound recording and design on this production), it meshes nicely with Shelton's visuals featuring the scenic Pacific Northwest, and his score plays a key role during an extended montage sequence at the end of the movie that has next to no dialogue. The sequence is a bit of a gamble on Shelton's part, but it's nicely put together and doesn't sap the film's momentum as the story comes to its conclusion.
Hopefully, a movie this quiet and clever can find an audience amidst the clatter of the studio tentpole offerings. Those who do discover it will be treated to a film that wasn't just the best thing I saw at last year's Toronto film festival, but the best film I saw all year.… Expand
Even though Your Sister's Sister is set mostly in the open air of a secluded area of a Puget Sound island, it feels a bit claustrophobic because of the very small cast. There are only three characters who perform 99% of the film's interactions and there are only so many combinations a screenplay can invent to pair two of them off at any given time. There are long, drawn out conversations which have an improvisational feeling about them and are enjoyable to sit back and watch. Audiences conditioned to expect quick cuts, brief sequences, and pointed dialogue may grow impatient with the extended length of scenes, but for those who relish real situations and characters who take more than a few minutes to develop will enjoy getting to know these people, quirks and all.
Jack (Mark Duplass) appears, just by looking at him, to be having a rough time. There are bags under his eyes, he has a few extra pounds, probably from too much booze, he is unemployed, and social conversations he attempts to contribute to have a way of ending awkwardly and uncomfortable for all in the room. His brother died a year ago and he still has no idea how to move on from that. His best friend happens to be his deceased brother's ex-girlfriend Iris (Emily Blunt). Perhaps this is Jack's way of hanging on to something his brother once had. Iris cares for Jack and after one of his completely inappropriate diatribes, she orders him to get on his old bike, peddle down to the Seattle ferry, and go spend a week alone in the woods at her father's cabin. Perhaps some solitude and introspection will kick him out of his funk.
The cabin is not empty though. Someone else with life problems decided to squirrel away there; this is Iris's sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). Jack and Hannah recognize a bit of themselves in each other, mainly the self loathing bits, and realize that first night together at the cabin that talking about your problems to a stranger over a bottle of tequila is oddly cathartic. Hannah just walked out of a very long-term relationship with her girlfriend and all of their long-term plans they had together. Both Jack and Hannah are searching for what they should do next in life, where to go, and how to change to get there; so maybe this is why they drunkenly end up in bed together.
The film sets itself up to go in many directions. It could have been self-destructive depression for Jack. It could have been a modern west coast version of Walden for lost souls. However, it chose to become a somewhat comedic love triangle. Iris shows up at the cabin early the next morning and Jack decides she does not need to know what happened last night with Hannah. Each of them maintains their own respective agendas and watching them emerge and conflict with one another is amusing and intriguing to wonder how it may play out. Jack is nervous about the truth being revealed, Iris has her own secrets, and Hannah may be trumping them all. This talk about secrets makes Your Sister's Sister sound devious and manipulative but it is not; somehow, the script keeps the atmosphere light and airy.
Writer/director Lynn Shelton has worked with Mark Duplass previously (Humpday) and the summer of 2012 appears to be his emergence to a wider indie public. He has three films in theaters simultaneously (Your Sister's Sister, Safety Not Guaranteed, People Like Us) and reminds me of Jessica Chastain from 2011 who came out of nowhere and seemed to be in a new release every single weekend. British actress Emily Blunt keeps her accent for this film and the plot noticeably includes a few sentences as to why that is. Her being British is not necessary to the film so waiting to see how they end up explaining away her accent causes a bit of an eye roll but it is not too distracting. Rosemarie DeWitt comes out the winner of the three. She has the benefit of playing the most well written character and she has the acting chops to pull it off. Jack is more the clumsy oaf while Iris is more the sounding board for his issues, but Hannah is in on both of their secrets and therefore benefits screen time wise.
Your Sister's Sister is much better than its recent cinematic cousin Safety Guaranteed and aims for more depth in its characters. The film lacks any particular punches which may have catapulted it into more profound waters; however, it is a worthwhile indie film to enjoy in an air conditioned theater on a hot day when the just the thought of another version of Spiderman will not do.… Expand
3My goodness, why is this movie getting reviews so high?
Yes the setting is nice, cinematography is well done in general. By dialogs? Silly, empty at best.
The acting is not convincing. I was waiting and waiting for the movie to get better. Time wasted, alas.
Overall I find the movie just pathetic. It does not happen that often that I would disagree with critics that much. Oh well. Be warned.… Expand