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Friday, August 31, 2012

"Your Sister's Sister", relationships & talks

Your Sister's Sister

Something had gone really wrong with cinema if an audacious, brave and laudable idea is a film where all that matters are dialogues and actors. These are the pivotal elements over which "Your Sister's Sister" is built upon to develop a tale of human relationships that, for almost all its length, looks natural and refreshing.  Let's say it clear: this is an indie film (loved the Fleet Foxes/Band of Horses reference) to make the ever-present Hollywood romantic comedies pale in their dumbness. So, sorry blockbuster's lovers, never-ending action scenes' fans, digital/animation's hooligans. Nothing much for you to watch here, I'm afraid.

Unless you like stories about people behaving like people, instead of wearing strange outfits, masks and capes, that is. That's what director Lynn Shelton wrote for "Your Sister's Sister", with a quite simple premise, and filmed in only 12 days, with almost no funding. A house on an island, almost hidden in the woods by a lake, where Iris suggests Jack, her best friend, to go for some time to "reboot" from his stuck life, as he's still paralysed because of his brother's death, a year ago. There he will met Hannah, Iris' sister.

A couple of scenes aside, there are only three characters with screen presence. The lack of external factors (no phones, internet, work issues), and the peculiar, isolated environment in which the film develops helps putting the absolute focus on the trio, their behaviours, talks, connections, and the emotions that they bring as well as they hide from the table. Some feelings are as secluded as the island where they located, ready to burst. Love, friendship, sex, family ties (magnificent pillow talks between the sisters), pasts, all around tables and beds. Shelton revealed the script had only 70 pages, so around 75% of the dialogue was improvised together with the cast. I'm seriously impressed by that. The biggest triumph of the film is building such a solid trio of characters, making them credible, likeable despite its flaws, and understandable, despite their actions. The bonds and boundaries of their relations are brilliantly and naturally exposed.

Of course, to achieve such mesmerizing and engaging results, you need a formidable trio of actors.The three performances, Mark Duplass as Jack, Rosemarie DeWitt as Hannah, and (the gorgeous) Emily Blunt as Iris are excellent, individually and collectively. They are fun, fragile and touching. All in a natural way, instead of much drama or exaggerations they are capable of condensing their emotional and revealing "voyage" in their chats, gestures and facial/physical expressions. Bravo.

With so much praise from my side, you might be thinking "Your Sister's Sister" is going to be considered as a masterpiece on this review. Unfortunately not. When tensions and revelations finally explode (as I said, kudos for not being melodramatic), the film chooses a much more predictable path. Not to say disappointing, but conventional (despite its peculiarity) and pleasing one. There's too much exposed and needed to assume to accept that end in such a little time, in my opinion. It is wonderful that love between humans can overcome everything, but with characters so well constructed, some more time for their evolution would have been recommendable. Otherwise, its final part looks like a sitcom, and the film didn't deserve that resolution.

Overall, a really remarkable, fun, refreshing and charming film, with three actors excelling in their performances, that misses a bit of their potential to be unforgettable towards the end. But nevertheless, this is an admirable  proof that all that matters in cinema is having a good story to be told, and having the courage of telling it.

SCORE: 7,25/10

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