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Sisters, The
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by Laura Kyle

"Bickering of the highest order."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL: The Sisters is the kind of film, that just four sentences in, you know itís based on a play. Every member of the ensemble cast spews the most garish, self-realized dialogue; itís like a bunch of psychologists by day/poets by night got together and argued incessantly with each other. But I suppose thatís whatís so refreshing about it.

Shot in no more than three or four locations really, The Sisters is a soap opera that feels like something right out of a Jane Austen novel almost, placed in modern day New York, the formal, glittering parlance devolving into more of an uncomfortable, forced speech. But it doesnít take too long before a moviegoer is won over by how downright brilliant and comedic the script (adapted by original playwright Richard Alfieri) is and how intense the characters areÖeven if itís quite fantastic. Hey, if I can give logic bending action movies and space adventures a pass, I can certainly give a movie that revels in witty dialogue, one.

An exceptionally talented cast is nothing short of required for a movie such as this. Youíre going to need a pretty darned good salesman to buy into these characters and their often histrionic, elaborately verbal way of expressing themselves.

Maria Bello does her take on a slightly less icy 21st century Scarlett OíHara, playing the supremely jaded, sassy Marcia. Bello is fearless, delivering an immensely entertaining performance. Her sisters are Olga (Mary Stuart Masterson), the eldest and most ďseriousĒ daughter, and Irene (Erika Christensen), the overprotected darling of the family, whoís 22nd birthday initiates a gathering between family and friendsÖand their subsequent head butting. If these people were a car, itíd be crashed on the side of the highway, with all of us slowing down our vehicles to about 40 mph to gawk.

Much of Marciaís contention is derived from her brother Andrew (Alessandro Nivola), on the account that heís dating the lower class Nancy (Elizabeth Banks). Sheís not nearly as crafty with language as the scholarly family she may marry into someday. I donít know what Iíd do if MY brother fell in love with a girl who didnít use at least three ginormous words for every third of a sentence. I definitely wouldnít go to the wedding! I mean, c'mon! (But, to Nancyís discredit, there are more damning implications as to her character than just that.)

Eric McCormack plays an old friend of Ireneís boyfriend David (Chris OíDonnell), a grumpy, sarcastic commentator of every get-together, who has what must be more than a dozen hilarious, snarky one-liners. And it doesnít seem at all unusual that he speaks so formally, but thatís probably just because I automatically thought of him as gay Will.

The Sisters really isnít about sisterhood so much; itís more of an illumination on the human psyche, as well as a fascinating examination of the power of secrets. The characters are at such an armís length (in that they likely donít act like anyone you or I know) so itís difficult to get too attached to them, yet they are fully communicated Ė and not just in the spoken words.

The Sisters is a theatrical melodrama that confronts very real (though not too commonly explored) issues about family relations and itís almost giddy in its delight with the English language. And who doesnít like to listen to a good old verbal lashing now and then, anyways?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12103&reviewer=369
originally posted: 10/25/05 00:58:25
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2005 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/25/06 Elizabeth S Feels "stagey", but very engrossing. Great dialogue. 4 stars
6/10/06 Sandide Absolutely delicious dialogue! 4 stars
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  14-Apr-2006 (R)
  DVD: 13-Jun-2006



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