Your Sister’s Sister finds strength in messiness
Starring Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, and Rosemarie DeWitt. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, June 22, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Hip Seattle types are eulogizing a recently departed friend when the dead man’s younger brother cuts through the thick sentiment with some choice recollections of his own. Mark Duplass’s pudgy, tousle-haired Jack has some issues, most involving listlessness and unemployment, perhaps related to standing in the shadow of the absent bro. This dynamic extends to his intense, if platonic, relationship with Iris, the absent sibling’s ex, as boldly played by Emily Blunt.
Jack has been in a funk lately—and definitely not of the James Brown kind—so Iris advises him to drop out further. She suggests he cycle to her ostensibly empty family cottage on one of the San Juan Islands. This is where the title Your Sister’s Sister comes in, because his (sort of) sister-in-law’s sibling, called Hannah and played by Rosemarie DeWitt, is already there. (She is actually a half-sister, as the improvised script labours to explain, so the very British Iris can have a strong American connection.) Hannah is getting over her latest lesbian affair, but that doesn’t keep her from indulging in a drunken one-nighter with Jack. Guess who shows up the next morning?
Much as I enjoyed the flow of naturalistic dialogue after that remarkable opening, I eventually recognized that the characters were shallow, overly chatty people with few interests outside of their immediate problems. The trio’s sexual and emotional connections were also threadbare, so there wasn’t a lot to root for.
By the way, has anyone else noticed that almost every romantic comedy since Say Anything has built to a boom box–in-the-rain moment in which someone finally forces himself to articulate something that was obvious all along?
It’s not clear why director Lynn Shelton (who also directed Duplass in Humpday) felt everything had to be tidied up efficiently here, because the movie’s messiness is actually its greatest strength.
Watch the trailer for Your Sister's Sister.