Note to self: never bang your best friends sister, unless they both agree for three-some. Hey, call me what you want, I’m just human dammit.
Jack (Mark Duplass) is still reeling a year after his brother’s death. Iris (Emily Blunt), who was previously in a relationship with his brother, invites Jack to go to her family’s cabin where he can relax. When he reaches the cabin, he unexpectedly finds Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). And that’s when things get weird.
For me, mumblecore movies aren’t really my favorite to go out and seek. Some of them are very good and bring a lot of reality to their stories, but others just feel way too quirky and weird for it’s own good. Somehow though, I took a chance on this one, actually paying for my own ticket, and I think it brought a new piece of faith in me for these little flicks.
What I liked most about this film was just how realistic everything felt, and I think a lot of that is due to writer/director Lynn Shelton, natural screenplay. Actually, maybe the word “screenplay” is not the right thing to use here because this film seems like Shelton just wrote-out to these actors, what was going to happen and why, and then she just gave them the camera to run free and do whatever they want. And that’s probably my favorite aspect of this movie because the whole time I was watching this, I didn’t feel like I was watching some really good-looking people, in a small-indie, I felt like I was watching real people, going through a real situation, and having some real emotions be torn apart. I felt like I could also hang out with these people at a party, and just talk, and talk, and talk, which is exactly what they do here but it’s a lot more interesting than what I would talk to them about. Because if Emily Blunt was next to me, I highly doubt I would want to talk to her about her sister. Just being honest here, people.
Another aspect that could pretty much go hand-in-hand with what I already stated, is that this film brings out a lot of emotions in you, without you ever expecting it. For the first 30 minutes or so, I was laughing my ass off just by how brutally realistic and zany everything was. Then, there’s a slight change of pace for this flick where it gets pretty emotional and that’s when it started to hit me because it shows these people in vulnerable states and how they all respond to one another, especially when peoples feelings are thrown into the mix. In any lesser film, this change of pace would have effected it and make it come off as some sort of melodramatic mess that is so easily trying to rip tears out of our eyes, but not this flick. In fact, I got a little teary-eyed by the end and it was something that I was not expecting in the least bit, and for that sneakiness, I have to give major props to everyone involved.
And when I do say “everyone involved”, I mean just that. The cast isn’t that big (probably about 6-actual speaking roles) but you don’t really need many people when you have these three together. Emily Blunt is great in this role as Iris, because she not only gets to show her chicky, British side to her that we all know and love, but she also gets to go down a very emotional path with her character that makes us feel so much for her and it gives her more depth as an actress, more depth than I could have ever imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I think Blunt is a solid actress, but I don’t really think she’s been given the perfect opportunity to flaunt her drama skills, especially when she’s in flicks like The Adjustment Bureau, The Five-Year Engagement, Sunshine Cleaning, and plenty of others. Not that those flicks are bad by any means, but they just don’t let her strut her stuff as well as she does here and for that, I’m glad because I think this gal definitely has a brighter future in Hollywood now. And hell, she’s only 29. Live it up baby!
Rosemarie DeWitt is an actress I haven’t seen much of in anything really, but she gives off an amazing performance here as Hannah that makes me want to see more. Hannah is a character that’s very hard to read at first, but after awhile, you start to see a very sad and lonely person come out of there and even though she, out of everybody else, does the meanest things, you still feel for her because of what she’s been through with all of life and love. DeWitt is definitely not the most likable character out of the bunch, but she’s one that you can feel for even when she is doing some nasty things. I also loved the little sister-sister relationship her and Blunt had going on here and it made me feel like they actually were sisters. And come to think of it, they actually sort of look alike.
The one who really surprised the hell out of me with his performance was Mark Duplass as Jack. From the first scene, this guy totally had me won over with his everyday dude look that seemed realistic and had him come off as a guy that is really messed up from the death of his brother, but also doesn’t take himself too seriously. I don’t know what it was about him, whether it was his delivery or great improv skills, but he had me laughing just about the whole way through and it was even in scenes that were fairly serious. Duplass really shines in this movie because he’s able to take this character from scratch, and give him so much depth and emotional honesty, that it made me feel like I could be friends with this dude and stick by him whenever he needed a friend. Like DeWitt, I haven’t seen this guy in much, but I think now I’ll start to look out for him more.
If there was one complaint I had with this flick, and trust me, it’s a biggy, it’s that I couldn’t really buy “the first ending”. When I mean “the first ending”, I don’t mean that this is like Lord of the Rings or something where Peter Jackson can’t make up his mind on how to end, so he gives us about 30 minutes of extra-footage. No, what I really mean is that the resolution to all of these problems these people have with each other, plays out in a very unbelievable way and I tell you why. By the end of this flick, these characters go through so much uncomfortable and messed-up situations with one another, that sort of feels phony in a way, when it gets resolved at the end. The way that Shelton has it all resolve was a good trick she pulls off very well, but it happened a little neatly and too clean, whereas I think some people wouldn’t let it be resolved exactly like that. I know I sound very vague, but that’s because I don’t want to really spoil the actual ending, even though I did like the final shot of this movie.
Consensus: Your Sister’s Sister may be a tad disappointing by the end, but still features a trio of performances that feel natural and realistic, a script (or lack thereof) that sounds like real people, actually having real conversations with one another, and when the film is all said and done, you feel like you know these people from the inside and out, and you can only wish them happiness for the rest of their lives.