Monday, 9 July 2012
YOUR SISTERS SISTER
(Lynn Shelton, 2012) L A screen credit as "Creative Consultants" for the principle cast members in Your Sister's Sister is the chief indicator that it's been worked up and developed through heavy rehearsal and improvisation, but that much is also quite evident in the film itself. The naturalistic dialogue, mostly - but not entirely - lacking in any stagey hyperbole or melodramatic contrivance, is the engine for everything. As a director, Shelton keeps it simple, fixing her camera upon faces as people talk. This style is absolutely suited to her chosen mode of low-key comedy drama, measured, intimate and keenly observant as it is. Occasionally she cuts away for a little scene-setting. In this film that means a few sequences of silent shots of a luminously beautiful Island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest of America in Autumn or winter, mist on the water, sun through the pines. The story follows Jack (Mark Duplass), lost and depressed a year after the death of his brother, after his friend Iris (Emily Blunt) sends him off to her fathers isolated summer house to figure out his life. When he arrives there he finds her older sister (Rosemary DeWitt) recovering from a traumatic break-up. Iris' subsequent arrival throws up a complicated web of emotional tensions and secrets between the three. The story is simple and some of the conversations that move it forward are funny, others interesting, most repetitive and fluid in a convincing way. Many feel true to these characters. So much rests on the shoulders of the cast. Duplass is fine; getting most of the laughs but capable enough with his dramatic scenes, he has a likeably normal charm. Blunt plays a spin on her slightly-quirky-but-hot persona and does it well, though she seems a little panicked during a few of the (presumably more) improvised sequences, while DeWitt quietly walks away with the movie, creating the most vivid and affecting character of the three. She is strong but grieving, intelligent yet vulnerable, and her emotional response to the films climax is what makes it just about work. But only just about, for Shelton's ending is the films big flaw, seeming to have been imported straight from some more mainstream romcom with all its contrivance and neatness intact. Still, for the majority of it's running time, this is an enjoyably modest comedy drama, built around three strong performances.