May 21, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 21 June 2012 10:24
As we enter the summer movie season — and big action films and comedies begin to fill theaters — the Reel Dad looks for a more nutritional movie choice. This week’s pick is a new comedy starring Emily Blunt, Your Sister’s Sister.
At any age, our relationships with our siblings are rarely predictable. Certainly we share a degree of history and, hopefully, we live with common values. But family connections are rarely tension-free and, even with people we have known all our lives, we can find it difficult to understand the reasons behind their actions, the emotions that penetrate their thoughts. Our siblings are never dull.
The lovely new comedy, Your Sister’s Sister, explores the depths of feelings between two related women within a framework of classic farce.
A somewhat confused man, Jack, offers an angry eulogy at his brother’s funeral. He is, actually, in love with the late man’s ex-girlfriend, Iris, who quickly sends him to stay at her family’s cabin because he needs to be alone. But he’s not alone in the country when Iris’ half sister, Hannah, happens to arrive to nurse her own romantic confusion.
Complications begin when the two broken hearts find themselves comforting each other, only to face more strain when Iris arrives unannounced.
Such complex romantic situations have been a Hollywood staple since the days of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies of the 1950s and 1960s. While Your Sister’s Sister may borrow a set up or two from early films, this movie’s contemporary sensibility makes it a pleasant mid-year surprise.
Movie maker Lynn Shelton brings such a natural approach to her characters and their relationships that we quickly overlook the familiarity of the plot devices. What matters here is the relationship between the two women that Shelton develops with taste and sincerity.
These sisters are far from simple and their relationship is certainly not ordinary. Rather than deliver the backstory in a traditional way, Shelton lets the characters unfold in a natural, spontaneous manner that makes the film feel fresh rather than staged. She dares, as a writer, to explore dimensions of her characters that a less secure creator might avoid; she brings, as a director, efficiency to her visuals that sustain her focus on the performers. And she gives her actors breathing room to create robust performances that feel right for the moment.
As she demonstrated in Humpday a few years ago, Shelton makes the difficult look easy, and helps us get to know these people in a streamlined 90 minutes.
For Emily Blunt, Your Sister’s Sister is another strong performance in a career that continues to grow. With her lovely sense of timing, and a natural approach to comedy, Blunt creates a fully-realized character without letting herself play to the easy laugh. She is matched, in rhythm and depth, by Rosemarie De Witt who delights with her frosty delivery while revealing the character’s heart. And Mark Duplass, so strong in Humpday, again brings his everyman quality to a role that may be underwritten but, in his hands, works well on screen.
For any adult with siblings, moments in Your Sister’s Sister will bring back memories of the secrets we keep, the lies we tell and the warmth we savor. You may decide to pick up the phone and call your own sister.
Film Nutritional Value
Your Sister’s Sister
* Content: High. The relationship between the women, and the man they share, offers insight into how siblings can be so close yet hide so much.
* Entertainment: High. With the lovely performances from the three leads, the film feels as fresh as anything we have seen this year.
* Message: Medium. While the film makes us smile, it also helps us see the follies that can easily occur within families.
* Relevance: Medium. Though the film is true to its comic aspirations, we are touched by the characters who bring the relationships to life.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: Medium. You and your older children will enjoy talking about how the siblings relate to each other within the farcical framework.
(Your Sister’s Sister is rated R for language and some sexual content. The film runs 90 minutes.)
4 Popcorn Buckets
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