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Overall Rating
3.71

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look85.71%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 14.29%
Sucks: 0%

1 review, 1 rating


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Your Sister's Sister
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by Jay Seaver

"Certainly this filmmaker's film."
4 stars

"Your Sister's Sister" is Lynn Shelton's new movie, and if you've been following her career, the shape of it likely won't surprise you much: It's three people in an increasingly tangled set of relationships fueled by improvised dialogue. Her previous successes have bought her a higher-profile cast for a somewhat bigger production. She's improving with practice, and was pretty good to begin with.

She starts us off with Jack (Mark Duplass), still reeling from his brother Tom's death a year earlier. His best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) - who was also Tom's ex-girlfriend - suggests he go to her family's island cabin to get his head straight. When he gets there, though, he finds Iris's sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who has just left her girlfriend of seven years and has much the same idea. Drinking happens, and when Iris shows up the next morning, things suddenly become very complicated.

It sounds like damning with faint praise to say, but Shelton has a real knack for taking a situation comedy premise and wringing an intriguing story out of it. Her previous film, Humpday (also starring Duplass), worked along those lines, and this one has a wry take on the structure at least twice: Early on, when Hannah recognizes that there's no really strong reason to keep something secret, forcing Shelton and her cast to put a little effort into a contrivance that many films would take for granted; and later, when a pivotal moment of dramatic upheaval is staged as farce. It's not so much subversive as it is playing to the genre's strengths - a good sitcom works via empathy - and this lets the movie be funny and serious without every tipping too far toward screwball or melodrama.

The basic structure of the movie is good, most of the way - toward the end Shelton seems to have a little trouble figuring out how to get the characters to start digging out of the whole she's put them in, really not seeming to know what to do with one of the three. Maybe that's partially a result of the improvisation - Duplass, Blunt, DeWitt, and Mike Birbiglia (who has a small part in the film's opening minutes) are all credited as "creative consultants" as well as performers - but by the same token, the partially-improvised dialogue is smooth, natural-sounding, and funny.

Of course, one can't tell how much of the dialogue is Shelton's and how much is improvised just from watching the movie, but their performances are certainly first-rate. All three members of the main cast are excellent, with chemistry between them that seems just right. DeWitt is especially good, not quite snatching the movie away from a very affable-but-wounded Duplass (whose Jack had been the viewpoint character until Hannah appeared) but establishing a parallel but very different character very quickly. Emily Blunt does some of her best work, slowly but surely building her character as the movie goes on.

The scale of "Your Sister's Sister" is small, and that suits it. Shelton does a nice job of telling a story that's funny and charming without being jokey. It doesn't overextend itself, and still earns an ending that's not just a punchline.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=22964&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/25/12 23:07:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Independent Film Festival Boston 2012 For more in the Independent Film Festival Boston 2012 series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 14th Annual Sarasota Film Festival For more in the 14th Annual Sarasota Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Nantucket Film Festival For more in the 2012 Nantucket Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/28/12 Lauren The worst movie I have ever seen even though the acting is commendable. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Jun-2012 (R)
  DVD: 06-Nov-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Jun-2012
  DVD: 06-Nov-2012


Directed by
  Lynn Shelton

Written by
  Lynn Shelton

Cast
  Emily Blunt
  Rosemarie DeWitt
  Mark Duplass
  Mike Birbiglia



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