Your Sister’s Sister: Three Emotionally Fragile Lushes Walk onto an Island….
Director Lynn Shelton (Humpday) has built a smart, endearing, deeply humorous and emotionally complex film in Your Sister’s Sister. The independent drama about a man and two sisters dealing with every issue possible while in the proximity of booze, a lake, and not much else, shines as one of the more memorable films of the year.
Premise: Iris invites her best friend Jack to stay at her family’s island getaway to rebuild his life; but after a drunken encounter at the cabin between Jack and Hannah, Iris’ sister, madness and intense comedy ensue. Result: A moving and memorable film that delivers more than it promises.
To be clear, Sister is by no means an epic or even a broad scale film, focusing mainly on three main characters who wrest away to a lonely island cabin to inadvertently explore the gamut of complex emotion. It begins with a catastrophic memorial of Jack’s (Mark Duplass) brother Tom, sometime after his death, where Jack breaks down and ultimately lashes out at Tom’s other friends who insistent on lionizing Tom. This explosion exposes Jack’s emotional vulnerability and draws Tom’s ex-girlfriend and Jack’s current best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), to his aid. She imposes a temporary exile on Jack to her father’s idyllic winter cabin on a remote island.
Jack dusts off his old red bicycle (which eventually symbolizes his restrained emotion and required catharsis) and awkwardly maneuvers himself, humping cumbersome camping equipment (despite going to a cabin?), to the island. The brilliant plan, instituted to help Jack move past his melancholy, is dashed instantly upon arrival: it appears Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), Iris’s half-sister, is already squatting in the cabin, pining away after a 7 year relationship fell into the metaphorical toilet.
After an amusing peeping-tom-death-by-oar catastrophe is averted, the two fall into awkward but polite repartee and then off to bed. Of course, neither can sleep, and the two bond begrudgingly over a bottle of Cuervo. As they become more familiar (and drunker), Hannah reveals that her relationship has just ended with her 7 year girlfriend Pam; and Jack, sensing the impossibility of intercourse, reveals that he would have sex with her if she weren’t a lesbian. The dialogue and effortless cast interactions are greatly appealing as their banter nestles comfortably in good on screen chemistry. Needless to say, in one of the more hysterical, awkward scenes outside of an American Pie film, the two have sloppy, clumsy sex.
The next morning, much to the Jacks’ chagrin, Iris arrives unannounced, creating one of the more hilarious moments of discomfort for the protagonist. Immediately, he is relegated to crazed teen, desperate to stop his mom from knowing he just did something “bad.” Hannah, in the deviant brilliance of her character, makes him seem absurd and neurotic, trivializing the experience (yes, all ten seconds of it) and scolding him for being so dramatic.
However, despite Hannah’s nonchalance, the rest of the film plays out the very real reasons that this event is in fact, dramatic. Scene after scene builds tension like a child’s fort made of snow, perilously resting on uneven, unchecked foundation. And soon, and almost suddenly, complete chaos erupts in their cozy cabin, and the humor is joined by desperate, tragic emotion, deep enough to elicit visceral responses from captivated audiences.
The film is not flawless, of course, as in some ways it really is overly-dramatic, and perhaps, in some ways a bit trivial in the grand scheme of things. Occassionally, audiences may wonder why the plot unfolds as it does, with at least one scene feeling a bit forced.
In fact, at times the plot teeters on absurdity, yet fortunately Shelton and her brilliant cast do wonders to keep the ship afloat. The events on screen are in some ways the pinnacle of good film-making, running the gamut of emotions and forcing the audience to engage with it. And audiences will gladly go along for the ride as each twist and turn delights more than the last.
The film is ultimately charming and deeply entertaining, and largely due to the actors themselves who are able to take already strong dialogue and breathe an entirely new level of nuance and life into each line. Blunt continues to be magnificent. Perhaps more so than in other recent films, there is a certain ethereal quality about her that screams “Star” and each time she is on screen, no matter how mundane the activity, we are drawn to her.
DeWitt is equally fantastic, exhibiting veteran range that makes us wonder who might have truly executed Hannah as flawlessly. Her manners, pauses, facial expressions, and dismissals are all perfectly delivered, almost as characters onto themselves.
Duplass, much like his co-stars, delivers an effortless performance that is infused with passion, sentiment, and impeccable comedic timing. Like DeWitt, he becomes the character and his expressions and insecurities pour out of him in increasingly comical and appealing ways.
Overall, Your Sister’s Sister is a fun, memorable must-see film. While it won’t live on for its epic delivery or its transcendent topic, it is a pleasing character study that is wonderfully executed and delivers more than expected. And fortunately for audiences, while the film really only explores these three characters, once they meet them, it’s likely all they would have wanted to do anywayl.
Rating: 8 – An expensive red wine and juicy steak
This entry was posted on June 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm and is filed under 8, Comedy, Drama, Independent, Ratings, Reviews with tags Emily Blunt, Lynn Shelton, Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt, Your Sister's Sister. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.