Thursday, July 5, 2012

Your Sister's Sister

In the small indie chamber piece, Your Sister's Sister, nothing overtly groundbreaking cinematically takes place, but a there's a brief refrain from the bombast of summertime popcorn thrill and a smart, terse and highly enjoyable small-framed group of characters at the root.  Written and directed by Lynn Shelton, whose 2009's Humpday deftly and smartly tackles straight guy randiness with similar tenderness and adult humor, proves herself a fine carpenter of characters and non-fuss artisan in making everyday comedy and tragedy both relatable and entertaining.  Within those deceptively simple confine, Your Sister's Sister smallness sharpens a larger scale of open-mindedness and optimism for the state of American independent quirk and a quiet place for underrated actors to shine with characters of dimension, warmth and wit.

Jack (an ever improving Mark Duplass) plays Jack, a Northwestern sad sack, still mourning and in despair over the death of brother; he's been gone a year now, but Jack is still disconnected and slightly raging.  His best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), in a moment of movie-land interventions offers her family's cabin in the woods for solace as a gesture to get his act together.  Jack agrees and arrives to find Iris's sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) using the rustic old-timey home for the same reasons.  She's recently left a longtime relationship.  The one indie-quirk that slightly corrupts Your Sister's Sister is Hannah's outside characteristics.  She's a lesbian vegan-- either for laughs, optimal quirkiness or indie cred.  Fortunately, DeWitt is a gifted performer who jells such misguided convention and Hannah becomes a real person in a short space of time.

The action, which feels like a bad word for a talky dramedy, begins as a late night of drinking and kvetching between Hannah and Jack turns carnal, only to be surprised by an early morning arrival from Iris.  The tension between the three grows tenuous and, for a short time slightly silly-- that is until the real life union of feelings and past desires are confronted and Your Sister's Sister becomes a quietly substantive film with utmost humanity.  It helps that the three leads are superb-- Blunt hasn't been as sharp or endearing since The Devil Wears Prada and DeWitt hasn't been this brittle since the joyous Rachel Getting Married.   If Your Sister's Sister does nothing more than giving the three leads another stab at a nuanced character or Shelton another stab at directing, Your Sister's Sister can not be viewed as anything other than a success.  B

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