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You Sister's Sister - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
You Sister's Sister
Directing: A
Acting: A
Writing: A-
Cinematography: A-
Editing: A

Maybe it's just by chance that both Safety Not Guaranteed and Your Sister's Sister are in theatres at the same time, but if Mark Duplass is not exactly poised to become a national movie star, this certainly makes him feel like a local one. Both movies were filmed in the Puget Sound region. I have no idea where he lives, but he seems to spend a lot of time working around here: 2009's Humpday -- which was written and directed by Lynn Shelton, who also wrote and directed Your Sister's Sister.

Shelton herself was born in Seattle, and seems to have a cinematic fondness for her hometown. She and Duplass make a great team, something hinted at before but made clear in Your Sister's Sister. It's an odd title, but it makes sense: Jack (Duplass) is still out of sorts a year after the death of his brother. His best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), decides he needs some alone time at her father's cabin on a remote island in the Puget Sound. When Jack arrives, he is surprised to find Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) -- Iris's sister. A day later Iris herself, unaware that Hannah is there, decides to pay a visit. So much for alone time.

Nearly the entire film features only these three characters, and it would make for an excellent play if not for the lush island scenery on display, often stunning in its beauty -- even to a local like me, who sees it in person regularly.

Hannah happens to be a lesbian, but she and Jack end up sleeping together. At first this seems annoying, almost to the point of pulling you out of the movie: really? The lesbian sleeps with a man? Granted, this happened in the otherwise excellent The Kids Are All Right, but might this be pushing it? Not really: turns out, Hannah's motivations aren't quite what you think. In the end, her lesbianism is left fully intact and without question.

But what the act does do is make for a unique tension among these three individuals, weirdly intertwined and ripe with potential drama. These actors, all of them excellent, never resort to melodrama, although at least one pivotal scene might be a contender for a highlight reel at the Oscars if the movie itself had a higher profile -- which it doesn't. But that works for it.

Hannah and Iris are actually half-sisters, which provides some insight as to how one of them has an American accent and the other British. There's a brief scene in which they give a more detailed explanation, sort of. No matter: the two are totally believable as sisters. Iris and Jack as best friends is slightly more problematic. There's an inherent predictability to the way their relationship progresses in this movie, but the actors also give them an inherent plausibility. The three of them make a very strange sort of love triangle, but with turns in the plot you don't quite see coming.

Duplass, as Jack, couldn't be more different here than he was as Kenneth in Safety Not Guaranteed. Duplass seems to be like a post-modern everyman -- a straight guy with inherent flaws but an underlying sweetness you can always see in his face. His face is slightly worn but that's somehow what makes him attractive. His delivery makes you instinctively feel for his characters.

There are some key details in this story that I can't share without spoiling anything, but suffice it to say that the final result is something that rises far above any expectations given the premise. Three people talking in the woods? How great could that be? Pretty damn great, actually. I left the theatre thinking about how much I loved it.

Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass sleep on it in YOUR SISTER'S SISTER

Overall: A
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