Your Sister’s Sister is a film about, unsurprisingly, the relationship between two sisters. But you won’t realize that until at least halfway through the film, when the plot finally begins to come together in a coherent vision.
Director Lynn Shelton (Humpday) put this film together in roughly 10 days and used a largely improvised script, which is fantastically acted by each of the three main characters- Iris (Emily Blunt), Hannah (Rosemarie Dewitt), and Jack (Mark Duplass). Unfortunately, the acting still cannot make up for what is a slow-moving and unfocused plot.
A year after his brother Tom’s death, Jack is still feeling depressed, angry, and unmotivated in his life. During a one-year anniversary memorial to his brother, he crashes the mood by telling a not-so-flattering story. Iris, Jack’s best friend and Tom’s ex-girlfriend, tells Jack he must clear his head and cool off. She invites him to her family’s isolated cabin off the Pacific Northwest coast, where he can be alone and collect himself. He accepts.
When Jack arrives at the cabin, he quickly realizes he is not alone as planned. Hannah, Iris’ sister, has also come to get some alone time after leaving a 7-year relationship. Following a late-night conversation and a bottle of tequila, Jack and Hannah have an awkward yet hilarious sexual encounter. The encounter becomes even more awkward when Iris arrives unexpectedly the next morning, and the two must hide their tryst from her.
Over the course of the next few days, we discover more and more details of the friends’ personal relationships, feelings, and emotions- laid out in equally comedic, dramatic, and tense scenes.
The movie is about Iris and Jack’s relationship, as well as Jack’s relationship with his brother. But more importantly than anything, it is about the relationship between Iris and Hannah. After the “secret” is finally revealed, a big emotional fight breaks out between the two sisters, who previously were very close. Even more secrets are revealed here, and Jack leaves the two alone, at which point they must re-examine their sibling loyalty.
The premise of the film is great, but unfortunately Shelton takes far too long to arrive at it. For nearly the first half of the film, we move from one premise to the other until we finally discover what the film is really about, and what the film is really meant to examine: Iris and Hannah. Once that focus is clear, the back story comes together and makes sense, but until then you are left scratching your head and wondering where the film is going.
While Shelton could have spent more time developing the plot, she definitely knows how to direct a camera. There are some beautiful scenes detailing the dreariness of the Pacific Northwest scenery, and some very well-done scenes showing the intimacy between all three of the actors. By the time the film ends (spoiler: it’s a feel-good ending), you are left satisfied in seeing a sibling relationship grow and develop into something much deeper than it already was – even if it took some painful revelations to do so.
Your Sister’s Sister is a film worth seeing, despite its various hiccups. If you can make it through the first half to see the second, you’ll be glad you did.
Your Sister’s Sister will be released by IFC in select cities June 2012.