Film Review: Your Sister’s Sister

13 Jul

Presumption: the ground, reason, or evidence lending to a belief’

Flipping, through the Arts Picturehouse programme under the golden glow of my bedside light;  yes, I thought,  yes, a story about two sisters (one  played by Emily Blunt (Iris); the other, Hannah (Vegan and a lesbian.. ) played by Rosemarie DeWitt,  in a sort of triangle with Iris’ dead boyfriend’s male best friend, Jack (Mark Duplass) .  Yes, a look at all of that might be right up our street (an Orange Wednesday mother and daughter trip to the pictures…). Yes, yes.

I thought we’d be in unison on this one; particularly with the sister thread running through it. But how wrong could I be?  I came away having found it moving and funny, and Mum’s first words were, ‘lightweight’. I presumed incorrectly. Our familial relation had made me presume…..

Now don’t get me wrong-each to their own and all that, and the film was not intended to be a heavy Anna Karenina nor was it intended to be a slap-stick Some like it Hot. It was not intended to be either one thing  or another.  Overall I thought the film managed to successfully blend humor and warmth with  the more spiky, intrinsic tensions between the family members. The casting was excellent and the plot and the characterisation felt naturalistic  barring the beginning  where a remembrance party for the dead boyfriend/brother felt a bit staged.  Much of the dialogue was improvised by the actors and I thought this worked well.

I particularly responded to the relationship between the two sisters and found the intimate and moving bed scenes (no, not those sort of bed scenes…) were particularly effective and affecting. You really believed there was a connection between the two characters.

 The dynamic between the three is set up via the aforementioned remembrance party for the dead brother/ ex-boyfriend, where Iris, seeing Jack is still grieving profoundly over the death of his brother, tells him to take off and stay in her family log cabin in the middle of nowhere in Seattle (beautiful, beautiful landscapes..worth going to see the film just for that…). and he does so only to find the other sister (Hannah) there recovering from a recent break-up of her own…And there it all starts….

Now, after that synopsis  let’s get back to the nub of it my presumption  and what that could mean in relation to the context of the film…There was something in me that presumed  because I know Mum so well (she’s family after all) that she would like the subject matter: she has a sister, so she would relate to the complex sisterly dynamic. She would connect.  Wouldn’t she? But I was wrong. However well you know somebody, when it comes to the fundamentals, the profound ways individuals connect to things and each other and their world, you can’t seem to predict that because the connections we make individually are so specific and so nuanced: coloured by history, psychology and prejudices.  This seemed to be the case with my presumption and the presumption shown by the two sisters.

Both sisters presume the worst possible responses from each other when they communicate what is really going on in their lives. As do we non-celluloid people; we worry  that if we reveal love we will be rejected; that if we reveal the truth of our wants and needs to the world, that those needs will be misunderstood; and that just because we are genetically connected we can  judge a persons behaviour and get it right.   The film engages with all the manifestations of  this presumption  and does so with   humour and warmth  and it does so by giving the viewer access to the characters’ hearts.

The direction was quirky and warm, and the soundtrack was really engaging. Oh, yes, and to mention it again, the scenary and the cabin were out of this world….

Here’s a review of it…

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