YOUR SISTER'S SISTER Send This Review to a Friend
One satisfaction of movie-going can be the sense of your really have gotten to know the key characters in a story to the extent that they emerge as recognizable human beings. This level of intimacy is startlingly achieved in the engrossing “Your Sister’s Sister,” written and directed by Lynn Shelton and remarkably acted by three superb cast members. The result is an example of independent filmmaking at its best, with an emphasis on ensemble improvising that contributes to the film’s overall freshness and realism.
At the outset we are privy to a memorial celebration a year after the death of Tom, the brother of Jack (Mark Duplass), who can’t stand the platitudes. He would rather remember his brother warts and all, and accordingly, he shocks everybody with a speech to that effect. Upset with having lost control, Jack is comforted by Iris (Emily Blunt), his close friend and the girlfriend of the late Tom. Iris suggests that Jack go to her family’s home on a Washington state island to chill out by himself for a while. Jack accepts.
When he arrives at the house at night, Jack is surprised to find Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), Iris’s sister, staying there, having gone there without telling Iris. Hannah and Jack do some heavy drinking, and Hannah reveals what has happened in her life—the breakup of her long-time relationship with a woman, who has left her. As they say, one thing leads to another, and there is something to hide when Iris unexpectedly shows up the next day.
Duplass, Blunt and DeWitt are such skillful—and very likable—performers that the characters they portray become totally real. There is much humor in the complications that ensue, and in the conversations and the emotional drama. The back story is that Iris has long nursed tender feelings toward Jack, who also has felt the same about her. With Tom gone, there are new possibilities, made complex by the entry of Hannah into the situation. Hannah has an agenda of her own, and how this all works out adds to the delight of the film.
The characters speak with candor about sex, and unlike the use of such dialogue in the exploitative manner of gross Hollywood comedies, here the talk and incidents pertaining to sex and relationships come cross as utterly real, whether meant to be funny or revealing. Duplass as Jack is appealing in his befuddlement at trying to handle the situation, Blunt is winsome as a very decent person who has trouble breaking free to express her love for Jack, and DeWitt is impressive as a rejected but personable woman in the throes of a romantic crisis, and who has an ulterior motive. All three performers give the film the sparkle that it needs to fulfill writer-director Shelton’s sophisticated vision. An IFC Films release.