{new on dvd} Your Sister’s Sister

© 2012 IFC Films, Ada Films

Writer and director Lynn Shelton is known for making sweet movies about not-so-sweet situations. While her breakout hit Humpday was a more extreme version of that emotional sleight-of-hand (just check out the film’s logline), Your Sister’s Sister edges this indie queen into mainstream territory with this tale of tangled relationships, bad decisions and good intentions.

Jack (Mark Duplass) is grieving his brother’s death. His brother’s girlfriend was Iris (Emily Blunt), who has become Jack’s best friend and voice of reason. Iris sends Jack to her family’s secluded cabin for a time out after he makes a scene at an anniversary memorial gathering. What Iris doesn’t know is her half sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is already there, mourning her split from a long-time lover. What Jack doesn’t know is that Iris is beginning to have feelings for him. What Hannah doesn’t know is that her reckless efforts to heal her own broken heart are about to break a couple more.

The amazing thing about this movie is how natural it seems. Even as the plot veers into French farce territory, the hesitant conversations and emotions are so real that the film stays grounded. The character’s connections and back stories are revealed as they interact, kind of like how you’d piece together the histories of new friends as you hang out together. It’s not just Shelton’s (seriously funny) script that keeps things believable; Duplass, Blunt and DeWitt all give authentic performances. I recognized these people, despite of (or because of?) the knots they are tying themselves into. Ultimately the film raises two worthy questions: Can you forgive the people you love? And can you forgive yourself?

gimme five

Good for: Lovers of conversation-based comedies; Fans of grace (the attitude)

Invite your: Sister, obviously. And if you’ve got a best friend you’re secretly in love with, this film could give you a good segue for The Talk.

Snack on: Vegan, soy-free, gluten-free pancakes. Or just regular, yummy pancakes, if you must.

Bring your: Best cabin-wear (flannel shirts and fuzzy boots)

Skip if: Awkward sexual situations make you squirm

Do you have any favorite films that explore the forgiveness theme?

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Sarah Magill

Sarah Magill has a full-time movie habit made possible by a day-time greeting card writing gig. She blogs at Gimme Some Film and is learning to write scripts and direct. She tries to balance her screen obsession with trail running, jazz singing, book clubbing, and hanging out with The Best Golden Retriever Ever, Copa.

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Comments

  1. LIz — November 13, 2012 @ 7:39 am (#)

    This movie has been on my list for awhile now… I’ve got to go see it!

    • sarah — November 13, 2012 @ 2:05 pm (#)

      Yes, and then let’s talk about those cabin clothes. So stylishly cozy.

    • Maux — November 13, 2012 @ 3:20 pm (#)

      Yes! I’m totally inspired by Rosemarie Dewitt’s clothes in this movie…

  2. sara — November 13, 2012 @ 7:45 am (#)

    “And if you’ve got a best friend you’re secretly in love with, this film could give you a good segue for The Talk.”

    HA

    • ali — November 13, 2012 @ 8:41 am (#)

      I just woke my dog up laughing at this one. :)

    • bet — November 13, 2012 @ 11:08 am (#)

      yep. that line made me smile, too.

    • sarah — November 13, 2012 @ 2:05 pm (#)

      I’m just watching out for people in ambiguous relationships. I probably should have clarified that I do not have a best friend I’m secretly in love with somewhere in the post ; )

  3. Melody Harris — November 13, 2012 @ 8:06 am (#)

    I love Emily Blunt and good conversation comedies, so I will definitely have to check that out!

    • sarah — November 13, 2012 @ 2:04 pm (#)

      Do it! Then tell me what you think. Emily Blunt is quickly climbing to the top of my favorite actress list. Did you see Looper?

    • Melody Harris — November 13, 2012 @ 3:57 pm (#)

      No! I am sadly behind on movies of note. Lawless was the last I saw in the theatre. Really liked it, but that is just sad I haven’t seen much! You’ve inspired me Sarah :)

    • sarah — November 14, 2012 @ 8:38 am (#)

      Lawless wasn’t that long ago! I thought Tom Hardy was really great in that film, but I think Tom Hardy is great in general. Happy I’m inspiring ; ) But it’s also good to live life outside theatres, too…might be spending too much of mine inside ‘em!

  4. ali — November 13, 2012 @ 8:48 am (#)

    I really want to see this one! Love Emily Blunt…and forgiveness. :)

    • sarah — November 13, 2012 @ 2:06 pm (#)

      Forgiveness is good.

  5. Matt — November 13, 2012 @ 9:02 am (#)

    Rosemarie Dewitt was hypnotic in the first season of Mad Men. Pleasantly surprised to see her back and to see her take some big bites out of another great role.

    • sarah — November 13, 2012 @ 2:03 pm (#)

      I forgot she was in Mad Men! I think the first time she wowed me was in Rachel Getting Married. She’s definitely somebody I’m watching for now! She’s in the new Gus Van Sant film Promised Land with Matt Damon, which looks really good.

    • Nathan — November 18, 2012 @ 8:38 pm (#)

      Rachel Getting Married. Bad film or worst film ever?

    • sarah — November 18, 2012 @ 9:06 pm (#)

      I will not be drawn into this fight again! Or maybe I will. How about this: I give you Rachel Getting Married to watch, and you give me some movie I didn’t like to watch. Then we both write about the experience of trying to keep an open mind about a film we initially hated during a re-watch. And whether we found things to like about it during a 2nd viewing or if it was just a hate-fest the whole way through again.

    • Nathan — November 19, 2012 @ 10:11 am (#)

      That sounds like a most excellent idea. I am in.

    • sarah — November 19, 2012 @ 10:56 am (#)

      Yay! We’ll brainstorm good movies-I-didn’t-like options.

  6. Maux — November 14, 2012 @ 11:15 am (#)

    Oh I also wanted to add for readers considering seeing this movie, in response to the “gimme five” “awkward sexual situations” DO make me TOTALLY squirm and yet I totally loved this film, which speaks to the writing and acting. So if that’s the case, don’t totally write it off!

    • sarah — November 14, 2012 @ 2:28 pm (#)

      Thanks, Maux! It helps getting feedback on people’s comfort levels. This film contains one of the funniest, shortest, most-unsexy, don’t-call-it-love scenes I’ve ever seen. Most of the tension comes from completely clothed conversation scenes afterward!

  7. Nathan — November 19, 2012 @ 10:50 am (#)

    The wife and I finally got around to seeing this last night. I found myself let down, most likely due to my own preconceived expectations. I had crafted the story differently in my head upon seeing the preview and was disappointed when they actual plot did not match up.

    That aside, what I liked best about the story was never shown. If this film was the second of three portraits in a series, I was more interested in pictures one and three, which are hinted at but never really shown. I wanted to see more about Jack and what occurred with his brother as this part of the story drew me in. I loved the opening scene and connected with him deeply as he made a fool of himself. I want to know all that lead to that point so as to flesh him out a bit more.

    I also found the end cliche and predictable. I would expand on this, but I want to avoid spoilers.

    I do not know if I struggled with this film as a man without a sister or just as a man in general. Maybe both. I think as someone who is not terribly close with his own sibling, I could have struggled with (a) doing something like that to a sibling and (b) the nature of forgiveness between family. I do not know if I found it lacking or too honest, but I struggled with it. Again, more to do with me most likely.

    On a positive note, I did find the repressed emotions of Jack real and very male and loved that we did not really see much of his epiphany outside of a few scenes with he and Big Red. His scene with Iris after the reveal was perfect. Duplas crushed it in that moment and that is what I wanted more of.

    I did love Dewitt, as a side note. I have been a fan of her’s for a long time, but she tends to play very similar characters in a lot of her roles, which is a shame. I have a feeling she has more range than that.

    • sarah — November 19, 2012 @ 11:01 am (#)

      Yeah, I think this isn’t a sure-fire hit for everybody. I did think the trailers for this film were a bit misleading…I’ve heard Duplass talk about his frustration with the trailers the studio made for his Jeff, Who Lives at Home…it would be interesting to do some research to figure out why misleading trailers are made. I think a sign of a well-focused story is that you get hints of the larger stories before and after; you should ask Lynn Shelton to write the first one so everybody can see that story because you’re right—it’s gotta be a good one. Glad to know that you found Jack’s emotions authentically male…they came across that way to me, but obviously don’t have the life experience to know! Totally agree on DeWitt. There should be a letter requesting roles of range for her!

  8. Cass — November 30, 2012 @ 9:47 pm (#)

    Just saw this. Emily Blunt is a master at charm void of pretension and deceit. The movie had a warmth that caught me off guard. Glad you posted about it!