Review: Your Sister’s Sister


Independent films have been teemed in awkward quirkiness as of late, full of precarious situations and cringe-worthy dialogue that makes you wonder how anybody could ever actually say half the stuff spoken in films. And then you realize that, in similar situations, you find yourself saying something very similar. Now, I’m not saying that every indie film follows this Anderson-esque formula, but it’s hard to deny that audience empathy tends to correlate with how awkward and socially clumsy the characters are, as if such clumsiness is a substitute for real heart and emotion.

Your Sister’s Sister utilizes no such gimmick.

Your Sister’s Sister
Director: Lynn Shelton
Rating: R
Release Date: June 15, 2012

Still reeling over the death of his brother, Jack (Mark Duplass) acts out at a gathering commemorating his memory. Sensing that Jack needed some time away, his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), convinces him to spend some time at her Father’s island cabin. However, unbeknownst to Jack is that Iris’ half-sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), was already spending some solitary time at the cabin herself. After some tequila bonding, the two of them become close with one another… until the next morning, when Iris makes a surprise visit.

The setup is pretty typical. In fact, some might say that the entirety of the plot is typical. However, what sets Your Sister’s Sister apart from other films is how tight and focused the film is. Outside of a minor scene, the only other actor billed, Mike Birbiglia, has about five minutes of screen time. The film is about these three characters exclusively; there are no auxiliary characters to muddle the spotlight on the situation between these three characters. And the tension… Oh, the tension that leads into the third act. It all feels so natural; in fact, the film was largely improvised, lending even more of a sense of credibility to the script’s realism.

It helps, then, that the chemistry among the three is amazing. I’ve been a fan of Blunt’s since I first watched My Summer of Love, and her role as Iris just fits her. I may or may not have a soft spot for British actresses, but Blunt’s talents just continue to rise. Sharing the spotlight as the other female character is DeWitt. Her Hannah is manipulative, but innocently so. The shenanigans she pulls should madden you, but DeWitt’s delivery actually makes you empathize for her. No spoilers, but once you watch this film, you’ll agree.

However, leading this so-called race is Mark Duplass’ Jack. Seemingly out of nowhere, I’ve been swarmed with Duplass-related projects, and it’s just to show how busy he really stays, yet his talents don’t falter. Jack is a bit of a goofy slacker, but there’s this every guy persona Duplass just exudes so easily. It’s not that he plays some sort of unaware, lovable loser or exploitative dick; in fact, he pretty much walks the line of character neutrality. Rather, it’s the aforementioned every guy nature Duplass possesses that allows you to put yourself into his shoes and actually believe in the decisions he makes.

Your Sister’s Sister is the combination of happenstance and emotion that, despite how extraordinary those circumstances are, feel natural and realistic. Driven by strong performances by its leads and an even stronger chemistry among them, Your Sister’s Sister is definitely a pleasant surprise for those looking for an indie film that’s full of soul.