Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass. Comedy/drama. Written & directed by Lynn Shelton.
FILM SYNOPSIS: The fourth feature from Sundance award-winning filmmaker Lynn Shelton, Your Sisterís Sister is a tale of grief, romance and sibling rivalry.
A year after his brother Tom's death, Jack (Duplass) is an emotionally unstable slacker. When he makes a scene at a memorial party, Tom's ex-girlfriend Iris (Blunt) offers up her family cabin on an island in the Pacific Northwest so Jack can seek catharsis in solitude. Once there, however, he runs into Iris' sister Hannah -- she is reeling from the abrupt end of a seven-year relationship and, finding solace in the affable Tom's unexpected presence, the two bond over a long night of drinking. The blurry evening concludes with an awkward sexual incident made worse by Iris' sudden presence at the cabin the next morning, which sets into motion a twisted tale of ever-complicated relationships.
PREVIEW REVIEW: Iím always intrigued by a film production that promises character development. Films like The Big Chill examine the complexities of relationships while poking fun at the charactersí frailties and predicaments. They build the narrative around witty dialogue and perceptive character development, realizing that these are the true movie special effects. Unlike CGI marvels found in countless action movies, story and dialogue in dramas touch the heart and mind, these emotional moments staying with us far longer than the results of computer trickery. All that to say, Your Sisterís Sister offers involving interpersonal relationships. Writer/director Lynn Shelton keeps us glued to the proceedings with clever verbal action, and moves her story along with solid technical pacing.
Alas, I continue to have problems with moviedomís version of freedom of speech. With at least 57 uses of the f-word alone, I get the impression that neither the writer nor the actors could complete a simple declarative sentence without its inclusion. The guy even utters this obscenity in his proposal.
Each of the characters relies on crude and offensive language to develop his or her character. This doesnít say much for the filmmakers. Itís limited. And we in the audience are forced spend our time with artists who share no responsibility for uplifting the culture.
When I professed my aggravation with this new wave of unbounded obscenity, no matter the type of character or the genre of film, a fellow critic said this language doesnít bother him. He amended that statement by adding, ďUnless itís gratuitous.Ē I thought, they swear 85 times in 90 minutes, how gratuitous does it have to get.
Looking and listening around, todayís culture seems so slack, so impermanent, but most of all, so coarse and so disrespectful. Words are what people live by. They express our knowledge and our heart. Yet, in today movies, there is no decorum, no sense of regard for others when it comes to verbal exchange. Your Sisterís Sister reflects this generationís near obliviousness to the power of words.
Let me ask you something. Are the majority of people in our society really having sex on a first date? A lot are in the movies. Putting religious conviction aside, doesnít sex with someone you just met seem problematic? Itís the most intimate act there is, yet people in movies lose control of all reasoning as if theyíre mutts acting on instinct rather than emotion. Of course, here we would have no movie if these two strangers didnít have sex the first night they meet. It sets up the premise. Like a bawdy bedroom farce, a guy has sex with a lesbian, even though he secretly loves her sister. I guess he thinks that indiscretion wonít cause a problem should a relationship ever kindle between him and his true love.
Itís an interesting premise, but again, it reveals a crude nature in the main characters. These folks donít maneuver around the minefields of emotional relationships, they just plow through them. If they really did self-discover, I doubt theyíd like what they find. That statement, upon reflection, is based on a desire to develop the spiritual man over the natural man. A regard for matters of biblical faith doesnít seem to be a part of the lives of the three protagonists. In a film about character development and self-discovery, this may prove to be unsatisfying for Christian moviegoers. It was for me.