Your Sister's Sister

Jul 6, 2012

Your Sister’s Sister

Grade: B

Director: Lynn Shelton (Humpday)

Screenplay: Shelton

Cast: Mark Duplass (People Like Us), Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau)

Rating: R

Runtime: 90 min

John DeSando, WCBE’s “It’s Movie Time” and “Cinema Classics”

An indie film like Your Sister’s Sister can make improv dialogue a work of art with nary a complaint from an audience that knows the rules of inexpensive and impromptu storytelling.  Two sisters become entangled with the same man, resulting in awkward moments and some fiery dialogue, but mostly the sweetness of people who actually love each other.

Iris (Emily Blunt) invites best friend, slacker Jack (Mark Duplass, the current mumblecore favorite—see Safety Not Guaranteed), to stay alone in the family cabin on one of Seattle’s San Juan Islands for some reflective time a year after the loss of his brother and her love. As it happens, her sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is there at the same time, and, well, the two connect after a night’s heavy drinking. Upon Iris’s arrival, there will be tentative peace until the tryst is revealed.

That’s not the only revelation, for each has secrets to tell, most of which are slowly distributed over the 90 min. The art and beauty of these complications are in the natural dialogue, generated by 12 days of production with writer/director Lynn Shelton in several cabins on the Islands. Because I’m a fan of Brit director Mike Leigh’s organic working out of dialogue with his actors, I found this film as pleasant as overhearing crisp, natural dialogue at the table next to me in a quiet, classy restaurant.

Although I also enjoy the witty conversation of well-crafted scripts, the emotional intensity generated by the shenanigans at the cabin is enhanced by the natural dialogue.  Nothing strident and very little crying as the complicated web takes over the tension and the principals figure out who loves whom and how to make the secrets known.

Besides the common setup of best friends falling in love, the rhythm of ordinary life coupled with our voyeur role, be it looking through a window at a partially-clad lady or listening to two sisters do pillow talk, Your Sister’s Sister is a satisfying low-key indie with oodles of humanity.   

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on demand at

He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel.

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