Skin and Blister
Previously unexposed to the works of acclaimed filmmaker Lynn Shelton, you can only imagine my enthusiasm as I presented myself at the counter and was asked “Are you here for the preview screening of THE RAID?
It was all I could do not to fill the Lighthouse Cinema’s spacious lobby with profanity so severe, so caustic, even the saltiest sea dogs would turn their craggy jowls and blush.
I literally had no idea how I was going to make the most of Your Sister’s Sister with so much rampant bloodletting but a few metres away.
Needless to say, I was a man distracted.
Fortunately, inside of twenty seconds, the words ‘Emily’ and ‘Blunt’ appeared alongside one another. Understandably, my previous reservations evaporated and this feature was given my attentions, undivided.
Men: We’re fickle like that.
It speaks to the quality of Lynn Shelton’s latest that I, a man who can’t even look at scaffolding or ladders without fantasising the kind of intricate devilment Jackie Chan could muster with such props, was completely enthralled.
Inside of five minutes, at the anniversary of his brother’s untimely demise, Jack (Mark Duplass) insists on toasting the MAN and not the overblown, deified MYTH fashioned by mourning friends. My first impression of Lynn Shelton: She’s thinking what I’m thinking!
A not inconsiderable trait for any director to have...
Neither is her deft use of imagery. An isolated cottage mirrors the mindset of the recently singled Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). The vibrancy of lush forestry parallels Iris’ (Blunt) blossoming infatuation. The cold stillness of an adjacent lake resonates with Jack’s crippled emotive capacity.
Naturally the tried and tested ‘beams-of-morning-sunlight-break-through-the-bleak-autumnal-canopy’ makes an appearance, but I’ll happily forgive Shelton this cliché. As previously discussed, I’m not opposed to things that look pretty...Your Sister’s Sister is (almost) exclusively a three character piece and it’s to the credit of Blunt, DeWitt and Duplass that their constant presence doesn’t grate. Perish that thought!
While Iris is just unspeakably lovely, Hannah and Jack come across as, well, A-holes. But the root of their grief is plain and that these characters evolve so remarkably in the space of 90 minutes is impressive.
These three are pathetic, charming, bumbling, witty and best of all, relatable.
While many films are burdened by bloated cast, Your Sister’s Sister gives its three characters the space they deserve. Discourse is sparse in certain scenes, enabling the audience to get a feel for them organically.
For recited synopsises and explanatory dialogue, look elsewhere.
My sole complaint is that I spent half the film hidden behind my jacket, chewing on the sleeve. While the grin-inducing humour in Your Sister’s Sister grows from natural interaction, it’s frequently cringeworthy, embarrassing stuff.
That’s fine if you’re able for it. Some of us, however, only have strong stomachs for violence...
Ultimately, Your Sister’s Sister is a terribly sweet endeavour, addressing an often trod finale with an honesty which makes it seem special indeed. And while no-one could necessarily accuse it of being the most imaginative concept in the world, it deals with the notion of siblings, via love and loss, in a manner both candid and energizing.
And, in case I have, until now, insufficiently emphasised this point... Emily Blunt is right there, being lovely.