As far as mumblecore goes–a genre defined by its hyper-naturalism–Your Sister’s Sister comes off as one of the most natural.
Unmotivated and perhaps alcohol dependent Jack (Mark Duplass) has just spent a year without his late brother Tom. He has no interest in friends, women, or getting a job, which leads his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) to intervene.
Iris sends Jack on a vacation to her father’s island cabin to unwind and think over his life. When he gets there, however, he is surprised to find her sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt).
Their first night in the cabin together, Hannah and Jack enjoy a deep conversation over shots of tequila. Jack is clearly still very much in his head over his brother, as much as he tries to hide it. Hannah recently broke off a seven-year relationship with Pam, a woman that manipulated and cheated on her.
The result of this conversation is a drunken night that leads to a complicated week when Iris shows up at the cabin the next day.
As far as mumblecore goes–a genre defined by its hyper-naturalism–Your Sister’s Sister comes off as one of the most natural. At least at first. The first three main conversations in the film set up the conflict concisely yet with narrative intrigue. Further down the line, these mumblecore-standard interactions waver in quality.
This wavering has mainly do to with the genre staple of mixing scripted and improvised dialogue. As the film progresses, it becomes increasingly easy to parse out this distinction. This makes the scripted dialogue, as elegant as it may be, feel more fabricated. On the whole, though, the realism of the film is not compromised by these minor moments.
Blunt and DeWitt both turn in grade-A performances. Duplass plays his usual character–the awkwardly charismatic lovable loser–but he doesn’t quite rise to the level of his onscreen counterparts.
When all is said and done, the conceit of the film boils down to your basic lover’s triangle with minor added nuances. This being said, a conceit is merely a foundation, from which Your Sister’s Sister builds a mumblecore dream house. Where other films in the genre let their characters get out of hand with their quirks, Your Sister’s Sister stays in the pocket with characters grounded in the reality of their situation. Thanks to this base reality, we get a break into act three that is phenomenally chaotic.
Your Sister’s Sister is a must-see for the mumblecore fanatics out there. If mumblecore is a foreign word, then it serves just as well as an entry point into the genre. It is simple, well-acted, and natural.
Your Sister’s Sister is currently available on Netflix and can be found on Amazon instant Video here.
As always, thanks for reading!
Have you seen Your Sister’s Sister? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)