Film review: Your Sister's SisterBy Georgie Keate
November 15, 2012
IN the past year, it seems every film Emily Blunt stars in is described as “sensitive and funny”.
As much as Your Sister’s Sister is no exception, it is not without justification.
The ‘mumblecore’ genre – defined by fly-on-the-wall type camera shots and awkward stop-start dialogue that gives an impression of almost improvised scenes – is the foundation of this film, directed and written by the movement’s alumna, Lynn Shelton.
Mark Duplass plays Jack, an endearing drifter still coming to terms with his brother Tim’s death a year earlier.
The opening scene is a memorial party where Jack spouts off about Tim’s negative characteristics, to then be given a pep-talk by Iris (Blunt) – Tim’s ex-lover and Jack’s best friend.
Where one sibling triangle is set up, another soon follows. Iris tells Jack to get some headspace at her dad’s remote cabin on the coast but instead of solitude he finds Iris’ half sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) in just her underwear, reeling from a nasty break-up with her girlfriend of seven years.
Sexualities aside, a bottle of tequila leads to a spectacularly unsuccessful sex scene. But then Iris turns up out of the blue and declares her love for Jack to Hannah – the ensuing attempted cover-ups and revelations structure the rest of the film in a deeply touching and realistic manner.
If the first part of the story is slow, it soon catches up with itself and draws the viewers in, giving equal importance to the sisters’ relationship as the traditional girl/boy love story.
The performances from all three actors are convincing and natural in their ability to portray their failings, insecurities and experiences of loss.
But it is also funny – the gentle teasing between the sisters and the extent to which Jack and Iris understand each other gives the film a true quality.
There is no Hollywood grandstanding here, despite the high-profile actors. Jack does at one point start smashing an inanimate object in the manner of an angst-ridden lover but the ending stops short of tying all the ends together.
The shots of the misty coastline and deep Washington State woodlands allow a contrast from the cramped environment of cabin secrets and conflicting desires inside and gives this mumblecore film a depth that stays with the viewer long after the credits have rolled past.