‘Your Sister’s Sister’ Movie Review – Dialogue, Dialogue, Dialogue
Romantic comedies sometimes get a bum rap. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll give an occasional eye-roll (or painful sigh) to the newest rom-com. However, if a movie can get the story right (a relative term I know), then I grow to adore it. This is done particularly through dialogue – I’m looking at you Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. So, Lynn Shelton’s newest movie, Your Sister’s Sister, which one will you be, the predictable throwaway or the dramatic gem?
I’m happy to report, it is the latter.
Taking place in Seattle and the surrounding areas, Your Sister’s Sister is kind of tough to explain without giving away much of the story. I’ll start you off with about all I knew going into the film – Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass were headlining it. That alone was enough for me. Not only has Blunt become one of my favorite actresses, but Duplass has shot up the charts, too. He’s one of those guys that seems so genuine. He’s not the pumped up macho man or the hammed-up funny guy. Duplass has perfected being a guy you could actually meet in real life. Some people go to the movies to escape real life, but I’d argue the movies are in place for a different reason.
Back to the story, Jack (Duplass) and Iris (Blunt) are platonic best friends. After Jack’s brother passes, he’s sent into a deep funk. His life has been sucked away. After another meltdown, Iris convinces him to take a short vacation to her family’s island cottage. When he arrives, he’s surprised by Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). These two strangers bond in a strange way, setting off a string of interesting events and revelations. That’s as far as I’m going to go.
The only other thing I knew about Your Sister’s Sister before was that it was set in Seattle. Shelton (who also wrote the film) really got the setting right. We’ve got the Seattle-esque music, climate, clothing, food, and lifestyle (like it not). Being a Seattle resident, I fell for the little quirks right away. It also made for a perfect selection for the 38th Seattle International Film Festival, where I saw the debut.
Ultimately though, the film reached me at a deeper level because of the writing. Well-written movies, in my eyes, tend to feel “real.” This may be preachy (since I say it a lot), but no matter the genre, a film should feel genuine. Even if it’s the newest superhero movie or a romantic comedy, it must have a degree of believability. In the case of Your Sister’s Sister, Shelton uses the genre to create three distinct, believable characters who act and talk like you would expect real people to act and talk.
The whole movie hinges on this, too, since it is not inherently action packed. Practically the whole thing is dialogue-driven, from the opening eulogy scene to the various confrontations.
Of course, the writing couldn’t pull it off without the talent. Like I’ve mentioned, Duplass and Blunt are their fantastic selves. The wildcard (and the best performance in my opinion) was DeWitt. Playing the confused and conflicted sister, she absolutely nailed it. All three deserve recognition, but she’s a slight step ahead this time around.
If you are a fan of romantic comedies, this one may be a little more dramatic than comedic. However, for a story, your money should go to Your Sister’s Sister. Lynn Shelton and Mark Duplass are known as “mumblecore” innovators, once again pulling it off. The movie relies heavily on dialogue and dramatic irony. However, there isn’t a bad scene in the whole thing – some may argue about the final one. There’s also no eye-rolling, no head-shaking, and plenty of ups-and-downs (in a good way).
This is what a romantic comedy should be.
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