Indie Love for Your Sister’s Sister

Your Sister’s Sister is just the kind of small, quiet, contained Indie movie that’s right up my alley.  I happened upon an interview with Writer/Director Lynn Shelton on Fresh Air the other night (this film is her sophomore effort, following 2009’s Humpday, also starring Mark Duplass) and my interest was piqued, by Shelton’s pleasant, unassuming nature, by the naturalistic dialogue i in the audio clips played from the film, and due to the three lead cast members ~ Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass and Rosemarie DeWitt ~ all of whom I like a great deal.  And so I treated myself to a Sunday morning matinée (my version of church).

Jack (Duplass) and Iris (Blunt) are best friends.  Iris sends Jack, who is still dealing with the emotional repercussions of the loss of his brother a year earlier, to her father’s cabin somewhere in the scenic Pacific Northwest in the hopes that some time away ~ and alone ~ will help him to “recharge”.  Upon his arrival, he finds he is not alone, as Iris’ half-sister, Hannah (DeWitt), is already there, escaping her own heartache.  After a comically rocky introduction, the two spend a tequila-fueled night discussing their problems…and then some.  Iris unexpectedly arrives the next morning and the inevitable complexities of the close-knit triangle ensue.  The premise may sound a bit cliché, but it is all handled with just the right dose of realism, comedy, maturity and heart.  It is very much a dialogue-driven film (which is SO satisfying when it’s done well, as it is here).   Apparently much of the script was improvised, which works to the film’s advantage in the hands of these skilled and highly likable actors.  The rapport between the three actors/ characters (the line between the two may be blurred) in their intimate interactions feels entirely natural and thoroughly believable.  This is a perfect example of a film that held my attention throughout, despite very little actually happening, as opposed to say, my experience with The Avengers, in which so much (of little consequence) was happening, I couldn’t connect with anything or anyone. (See my Avengers review for my thoughts on it.)

The developments within the triangle get increasingly tangled as time passes at the cabin ~ fibs, flaws and feelings all come to the forefront.  Each of the three is eventually forced to do some serious introspection, even while still in one another’s company.  In the end, it is really about bonds: the unbreakable, enduring bonds between siblings and between old friends ~ between the people who know you best and who love you unconditionally, no matter how much you or they might screw things up.  Because let’s face it, life is messy.  But when the mess involves the people who love each other the most, it has the potential to turn into a beautiful disaster.  We never know what twists and turns life and love will throw us, or how things will ultimately turn out, but the unknown is part of the adventure.  Shelton clearly understands this, by tying up just enough of the loose ends to satisfy, but also leaving us hanging as the screen fades to black.

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