From the writer/director of the interesting, albeit hit-and-miss Humpday, Lynn Shelton, comes the latest ‘he loves her, but she doesn’t love him or does she?’ comedy “Your Sister’s Sister“.
Still grieving the loss of his brother, Jack is convinced by his best friend and ex-girlfriend of his aforementioned deceased brother, Iris (Emily Blunt) to take a vacation at her father’s cabin. When he arrives there he is shocked to find that he is not alone; Iris’ sister Hannah has taken refuge there after the breakdown of her long term relationship with her lesbian lover came to an abrupt end.
Rather than licking their wounds they decide to drown them in tequila before deciding it will help them both out if they do The do. And so they do. But it doesn’t. Then things really start to heat up when Iris arrives the next morning. Cue revelations about previously unexpressed feelings from Iris and Jack and you have tensions running high.
Your Sister’s Sister is a simple film; basically set in one location and starring just three people it feels a lot more like a play than a film. It opens with real promise, in the only scene to star more than three people – a one year anniversary to celebrate the life of Jack’s brother. And while everyone at the party are happy to remember all of his great qualities, Jack is vocal about who his brother really was, a genuine human being with flaws like the rest of us and not this perfect person they’re talking up. As you can imagine, this doesn’t go down well with his friends. It’s a scene of tension, but feels very genuine and distinct and also says much about the character of Jack and his relationship with his brother.
From this point however, the film loses that quality. It’s not to say the scenes between the three leads aren’t entertaining. The dialogue, most of which is improvised, sometimes crackles and mostly feels sincere, however, the scenario is flat and predictable. Anyone who has seen the trailer will know exactly where the film is going and the film never surprises.
The three leads all provide solid performances. Mark Duplass’ deadpan deliveries are executed with pinpoint perfection as he brilliantly inhabits the bungling, beleaguered unlikely romantic lead. Emily Blunt is characteristically authentic; she is one of a few actresses who can seamlessly slink into a character and make it seem three dimensional, exhibiting grace and charm; humour and wit and scenes of genuine emotion. Equally good is Rosemarie DeWitt as the headstrong, techy sexually confused sister. She commendably displays her versatility in another role, that like in Rachel Getting Married could see her disappear into the background but somehow she manages to steal scenes.
The film also feels very flat aesthetically, which is mainly down to uninspired camerawork, sounds design and directing. Obviously flashy camera work, choppy editing and pulsating sound are not suited for such a piece, but nothing about the aesthetic composition of the piece feels authorial in any sense. Eve a minimalist piece can become so much more at the hands of a director, take Bergman’s Persona, it’s a masterwork of imagination and innovation with unique shots and compositions to heighten emotions in each scene and give a distinct feeling to specific moments. And given the extent to which Shelton has given her actors for their improvisation, other than admiring the faith and freedom she gave her stars with her scenario it’s hard to find much credit for the young, female director.
Solid performances, that deserve further respect for their improvised nature, Your Sister’s Sister sadly fails to rise above an off-off Broadway production with lacklustre direction and camerawork being chief culprits.
Your Sister’s Sister is released in cinemas from today.