Your Sister’s Sister (2011)
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 90 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama
USA Release: 6/15/2012 (Limited)
On DVD (USA): 11/6/2012
What’s a better way to get over a crummy year, go to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, get drunk and sleep with your best friends sister, yep that will make things all better. In Lynn Shelton’s newest film she tackles the complications that arise from doing just that, but with a little twist. However with this being the first film of Shelton’s I’ve seen, I’m curious to see how she’ll keep things fresh and not predictable or clichéd.
After the death of his brother, Jack (Mark Duplass) has struggled to get his life back together over the past year. And while at a party his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) jokingly has an “intervention” by offering Jack her father’s isolated cabin to go collect himself. Realizing how messed up he must be Jack decides to take up the offer. After Jack trucks his way out to the cabin on his red bicycle he unexpectedly meets and scares Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who without anyones knowledge also decided she needed to get away to the cabin. Now the two awkwardly settle in for the night but neither can sleep, so they talk, drink and well it leads to you know. But it’s the next morning when Iris makes a early surprise visit to check on Jack that things about last night’s encounter become something they must keep from her.
Now like I said before this is the first film I’ve seen of Shelton’s, although I have heard good things about her last film 2009’s “Humpday” but going into the theater my expectations were a bit mixed. What I mean is while the storyline is realistic and has honest conversations, the film seemed to be on a rollercoaster tone and time wise. At times the film moved tediously having us spend too much time hearing people just talk instead of telling a story. And at other times specifically the montage, time moved too fast, it was almost like someone running up stairs but on the way down trips and falls down four flights, by the end everything just didn’t seem to smoothly take us from one thing to the other. But I will say this, that although that flaw caused me to get bored a few times, I have to say that the conversations and movement of the characters were extremely realistic. Unlike other films that tell a similar story and focus on making the characters seem cooler than any real person is, “Your Sister’s Sister” kept a level head about setting up situations that dealt with real topics and giving appropriate responses.
Another thing that I felt didn’t work too well with the story was that at times it was kind of predictable and a little bit clichéd. Now I’m not saying you’ll see everything coming but as the film continues things start to fall into that heavily driven path that can been seen in other films. Shelton throws a few twists in there while keeping to the typical indie filmmaking format of showing beautiful landscapes and the sometimes too extreme emotions, case in point the destruction of the red bicycle (when/if you see the film you’ll understand). But that doesn’t bring the film down completely. And although I keep saying how there isn’t a real flow to the film, there are times that there is, but that’s mostly just in individual scenes. That might contribute to the improvisation from the actors, which strike the question is there ever a point of too much improvisation? This film definitely walks the line and I think that’s why I’m so conflicted about how much I like and dislike the film.
Moving on much of the realism to this film is of course contributed by the actors themselves, they showed such a connection to each other and the material that it never felt scripted, which can probably explain why the three of them were also listed as creative consultants. But there were also times when scenes lasted probably longer than they should because of the improve which again brings up the question I asked in the last paragraph (that will give you something to think about). Anyways, although the cast is only made up of three people they do a great job at this would be character study of real life (that’s actually real). Rosemarie DeWitt like Duplass is someone that have little knowledge of having only seen her in “Rachel Getting Married” and on the TV show “United States of Tara”. So you can see I don’t have too much of an opinion towards her acting, which seems fine but nothing really grabs your attention except her keen sense of knowing when to get riled up. But overall I think DeWitt gives an ok performance, at times she can be annoying while at other times kind of likeable.
Mark Duplass is another one I have hardly seen act (this is actually the first film I’ve seen him in, I haven’t seen “Safety Not Guaranteed” yet), but I have seen a couple of the films he co-directed with his brother, “Cyrus” and “Jeff, Who Lives at Home“. Duplass like some of the characters in his films, he has that quirky slacker look down, and like Jason Segal’s Jeff is a manly guy who is not afraid of wearing his sensitivity on his sleeve. He pushes his character’s quirkiness to the edge but luckily never falls over. As for Emily Blunt, I think she is the best thing going on in this film. While all of the actors have good chemistry with each other, I think Blunt has the most ease with it, let alone the entire film. Like I always find her to be, she just glides her way through a film and just makes the whole process look effortless. Her character is the one who ends up with the biggest plateful of problems but she is also the one that makes the most effort to sustain them. And it was a pleaser to watch Blunt work her way from her character’s best, worst and back to best.
Overall “Your Sister’s Sister” has an interesting premise that showcases realistic like qualities and conversations. However, the flow of the film is all over the place turning it into a uneven boring mess at times. That being said without the genuine performances done by the cast especially Emily Blunt the film would have been a complete waste. If your interested in this film, tread lightly, some may find it worth seeing in theaters but I recommend waiting for the DVD, the performances might be good but by the end it’s a little bit of a disappointment.