Your Sister’s Sister from writer/director Lynn Shelton deals in well-observed details and authentic voices.
If a Hollywood studio had produced this film, it might have cast Reese Witherspoon or Rachel McAdams, thrown in Channing Tatum, and had the script re-worked by a bevy of quippy writers. Fortunately for us, Shelton kept things intimate, working extensively on character and backstory with a hand-picked cast. Despite a gimmicky premise, the end result has more in common with a quirky Mike Leigh film than a glossy rom-com.
Emily Blunt, who seems to become more enjoyable with each of her roles, stars as Iris, who we first meet at the one-year memorial for ex-boyfriend Tom. Her best friend Jack (Mark Duplass), Tom's brother, is still grieving. After this opening scene (which is funnier than you might expect), Iris encourages the unemployed Jack to spend some time at her family’s lakeside cottage. Finding Iris’s sister Hannah (Rosemary Dewitt) already there, Jack settles in to a night of drinking and commiserating with Hanna about her recently ended lesbian relationship. One thing leads to another and the next morning, Hannah and Jack face the cold light of day as well as the unexpected arrival of Iris.
At this point, this gentle comedy becomes a piece of well-crafted theatre with the three main characters as points of a triangle—sharing, concealing, confiding and dissembling as their intentions become apparent. Blunt and Dewitt have a sisterly ease together (all the more remarkable given that Dewitt came late to the project, replacing Rachel Weisz), while Duplass, best known for his mumblecore movies, makes the most of his comedic chops without compromising his leading man charm.
Shelton skillfully progresses the story with excitement talky action even as the characters never stray from the cabin and its stunning Pacific Northwest surroundings. As counter programming to the summer onslaught of mega-budget blockbusters, this incisive indie film should be be a hit with thoughtful filmgoers.
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