Are you truly able to avoid your troubles, or will your problems only follow you wherever you go?
Director Lynn Shelton sets out to answer this and more in her latest romantic comedy-drama Your Sister’s Sister, playing now through Friday, July 13, at the FAU Living Room Theater.
The film follows a complicated love triangle that arises on a vacation. Jack (Mark Duplass) is having a difficult time dealing with his brother Tom’s death. After a breakdown at a memorial party, Tom’s friend Iris (Emily Blunt) welcomes Jack to stay in her family’s cabin with her sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). After the two decide to sleep together while drunk, they must deal with the consequences when Iris makes a surprise visit.
Shelton’s films are associated with the “mumblecore” movement, an indie film genre relying on non-professional, 20 and 30 somethings whose characters are often finding their place in the world. Her 2009 film Humpday brought attention to the genre as one of its most critically acclaimed films. Your Sister’s Sister continues this trend by delivering powerful performances from its three leading actors.
In Shelton’s latest film, Blunt does an excellent job of letting raw emotions pour out of her during intense scenes, but it’s Duplass and DeWitt who lend themselves to the film’s down-to-earth mood through casual conversation. Blunt does, however, feel out-of-place as she retains her British accent while living in an American household. Every “kah-n’t” and “sis-tah” Blunt says interrupt the movie.
But the chatter between Dupleass and Dewitt, especially about relationship woes, is what makes these characters feel like actual human beings. Their stuttering and working with one another on handling their secrets is more realistic than a household name reading lines on a page.
Your Sister’s Sister does, however, indulge in the silly quirks that define its mumblecore characters.
Hannah, for example, is a lesbian vegan who spends time making and eating bird feed as well as getting angry about the butter in her potatoes.
The worst part is the ridiculous reason why Hannah sleeps with Jack. There are easier alternatives for her to get what she wants in the movie. And it also doesn’t help that Jack’s character goes from being a depressed man who is established as an emotional wreck to a comical horn dog — loaded with one liners — eager to sleep with Hannah the moment he gets in the cabin.
This change in Jack’s character feels completely out of place because he simultaneously wants nothing to do with people at the moment. While these character quirks feel added for the extra laughs, others seem to sporadically change the characters without any sense to the changes.
Despite its flaws,Your Sister’s Sister is a refreshing new take on romantic comedies with awkward characters in comfortable settings. It superbly presents a level-headed romance, highlighting the silver linings in even the bleakest moments of life. By its end, Your Sister’s Sister proves a heartwarming story about the disconnecting and reconnecting moments with loved ones in life.