We’ve seen a lot of indie movies at the cineplex lately with the similar themes: relationships put in uncomfortable situations we hope never to face. Awkward breakups, unwanted pregnancies, villainous ex-lovers and anything that could ruin a potentially wonderful relationship are all on the table.
Similarly, Lynn Shelton’s latest effort, “Your Sister’s Sister,” starring Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemary DeWitt, is a moving, serendipitous love story about people aching for love which, through stubborn compromises and foolish decisions, they just might find. The film is an admirable examination of making what could be considered a bad decision, and the string of undesired events that come from it. Cause and effect.
Jack (Mark Duplass) has a few problems. He hates his dead brother, he’s mad at the world, and he needs a break. At the suggestion of his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), on the one-year anniversary of his brother’s death, Jack rides his bike, hops on a ferry and heads to the middle of nowhere to stay in her family’s cabin to get his head straight.
When he arrives, he finds that Iris’ sister Hannah (DeWitt) is also staying there to get her head straight, unbeknownst to Iris. After a few dozen shots of tequila and some intimate conversation, Hannah and Jack have what they thought would be a one-night stand, which turns into a weekend crash course on romance. Iris shows up unexpectedly to check in on Jack, who doesn’t want his best friend to know that he just slept with his sister. What he does know, however, is that Iris has plans to tell him that she loves him.
Mark Duplass has already achieved so much in the film industry. He’s one of the pioneers of the “Mumblecore Generation” (although you shouldn’t ever ask him about it), and has broken into making bigger films with bigger stars, such as the recent "Jeff, Who Lives at Home." Sometimes he pops his head in front of the camera, having starred in movies cowritten and directed by his brother Jay. It’s safe to say he wears many hats successfully, and “Your Sister’s Sister” really relies on Duplass’ Jack. Do we want to feel sorry for this loser? Do we even care? Why is he mad at his dead brother? By the end of the film we really don’t feel anything for the guy -- he wants us to know he will always be a loser -- but we do want him to gain some form of happiness out of the weird, weird situation he has just put himself in.
Blunt and DeWitt carry on natural conversations like sisters, as if they’ve known each other since birth. One irritating thing about this, however -- which does eventually get addressed -- is Iris’ English accent. Addressing it earlier in the film would have eased the curiosity factor quite a bit.
The relationships in “Your Sister’s Sister are complicated. Jack just slept with Hannah, whose sister is Iris, Jack’s best friend, who wants to tell Jack that she loves him. The more Jack and Hannah prolong telling Iris about their drunken sexual encounter, the harder it’s going to hurt. One of the things you may ask yourself is, “I go to the movies to escape for 90+ minutes from the slums of everyday life. Why would I want to see a movie that depicts a situation that feels so real?” The answer is simple: It’s comforting to watching dramatic and comic fiction regarding the things some of us actually have to deal with in life. When done right, those kinds of films are worth your time. “Your Sister’s Sister” happens to be one of them.
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