Low budget indie film, Your Sister's Sister, writer/director Lynn Shelton's follow-up to her 2009 Sundance award-winning film Humpday - which I have not yet seen - is a smart, consistently hilarious and dramatically convincing human relationship story. Aided by fantastic chemistry between the principal cast of Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, and Rosemarie DeWitt, and the collaborated creative freedom between them and Shelton, Your Sister' Sister comes highly recommended.
Duplass stars as Jack, the still-grieving brother whose life is in the dumps ever since the death of his brother Tom one year earlier. In the film's opening scenes, Tom's friends, including his ex-girlfriend Iris (Blunt), have assembled to honour him and it is here, after another meltdown, that Iris suggests that Jack take the time to unwind, clear his head and pick up the pieces of his life in the comfort of her family's secluded cabin. He takes up the offer but on arrival he is surprised to learn that Iris' lesbian sister Hannah (DeWitt) has also chosen to bunk up after the recent dissolution of a seven-year relationship. After a single night of tequila swigging and story sharing, Jack and Hannah unexpectedly end up in bed together. Things get awkward when Iris turns up the next morning - having scored some time off work to take care of Jack. Iris is excited but shocked to find her sister there, possessing a secret of her own, and in the ensuing days, the three face up to one another, divulge personal revelations and ultimately come to terms with the seemingly innocent events of the boozy first night.
What makes Your Sister's Sister so watchable is the naturalistic dialogue - these characters have genuine feelings and are conveying credible emotions and conversing how people actually converse. Whenever siblings or close friends have an argument they are usually messy. People often talk in circles, stammer, say the wrong thing, and get overwhelmed by the awkwardness of the situation and fear they are going to hurt the other person. This is exactly how the arguments play out here. By leaving the scene in the hands of the actors - and I can only assume several of the scenes were improvised - it allows them freedom to bring in a spontaneous emotion and express how they are feeling without the confines of a script. I didn't feel like I was watching a film; but real people trying to come to terms with their confused feelings. This is why I found the dramatic moments so affecting.
Your Sister's Sister is also a very funny film. There are several times when I had to stifle laughter during scenes that weren't meant to be funny because I was still thinking about scenes prior. The natural chemistry between Duplass and DeWitt in the drinking scene is hilarious on its own, and watching Jack bumble over devising plans to keep the sex between him and Hannah a secret is really amusing. Also, watching Jack and Iris fake their delight in eating Hannah's vegan pancakes is a fantastic set-piece. One scene even reminded me off a classic moment in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot. I might be the only person to have that memory sparked, but everyone takes away their own little rewards. The bottom line is: I laughed a lot throughout Your Sister's Sister. With its swift-moving story it achieves a rare feat: maintaining the laughs for almost the entirety of the 90 minutes and only surrendering them for effectively moving dramatic periods.
I wasn't such a big fan of indie favourite Safety Not Guaranteed, but Duplass' performance is one of its strongest features. Here, he is simply outstanding. Though I have not seen any of his co-writing/directing work with his brother Jay (Jeff, Who Lives At Home and Cyrus), he seems to have talent behind the camera too. Emily Blunt, excellent, is always a pleasure to watch and one of the hardest-working actresses at the moment. After already appearing in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and The Five-Year Engagement earlier in the year, she also stars in next month's Looper. Rosemarie DeWitt, so good in Rachel Getting Married opposite a never-better Anne Hathaway a few years back, became a regular cast member on The United States of Tara. I enjoyed each of their performances and it is a testament to their comedic and dramatic acting talents to so convincingly flesh out their characters. A fine soundtrack and a gorgeous location add further pleasures. Make the effort to see Your Sister's Sister. I hope you are as pleasantly surprised and entertained as I was. It is the indie comedy gem of the year so far.
My Rating: ★★★★1/2 (A-)