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Your Sister’s Sister

This film was previously reviewed by Mick McGovern after its screening at JDIFF 2012. He quite liked it too. 

Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister – ★★★½

Lynn Shelton’s fourth feature sees her re-uniting with her Humpday star and the hardest working man in mumblecore, Mr. Mark Duplass. Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt form the other 120° of an incredibly unusual love triangle.

It’s probably ideal to go into Your Sister’s Sister without knowing too much about the relationship dynamics in play here, but for the purposes of this review I’ll try and provide a basic version. Duplass plays Jack, a guy who lost his brother a year ago and is on the road to forty without much focus or direction. The one bright light in his life is his best friend, Iris, played by England’s finest, Emily Blunt.

She decides he needs a bit of alone time to unwind and reboot and so sends him off on his red bicycle to her father’s cabin on the San Juan Islands off the coast of Seattle. He arrives to see that Iris’ half-sister Hannah (DeWitt), who has recently broken up with her girlfriend, is already in the house. Tequila flows, they end up in bed. The next morning Iris arrives but Jack and Hannah decide it’s best not to tell her anything to avoid any potential awkwardness or tension. Needless to say that isn’t as easy as it seems…

| o | – Mark Duplass. What a ride.

So far, so soap opera, right? Well not exactly.

Despite the fact that written down it all seems pretty ridiculous, the whole thing is actually very believable and incredibly compelling. As with all these “mumblecore” films, the whole thing is driven by credible, amusing dialogue with Shelton’s script top-notch. And because the film is 98% set in the island cabin where there is nowhere to hide, she is blessed to have three actors on top of their game.

In Mark Duplass we really do have a leading man worthy of all the indie street-cred that he has built up over the last seven years. Part of you wants him to break out into the mainstream and start winning MTV Movie awards, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it would be nice if he could remain as American independent cinema’s little secret for a while longer. His chemistry here with Blunt and DeWitt is undeniable and it all helps to deliver credence to their situation.

I’ve no idea how much of the meeting scene between Jack and Hannah is improvised but I have to say I haven’t been as drawn into a purely dialogue-based scene since the infamous meeting between Father Moran and Bobby Sands in 2008’s Hunger – a ridiculously off-hand comparison, but there you go.

Your Sister’s Sister unravels a little bit as we head for the conclusion with Shelton opting for a few moody “thinking” scenes and montages, but thankfully it just about holds itself together. Despite these minor irritations, with such compelling characters you could easily spend twice as long in this cabin in the woods.

USA  /  Directed By: Lynn Shelton  /  Written By: Lynn Shelton  /  Starring:  Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt  /  90min  /   Comedy, Drama   /  Release: 15 June 2012 (US/Canada), 29 June 2012 (UK/Ireland)


I saw this during JDIFF and I really enjoyed it right up until that blasted ending.

I think Shelton said at the Q&A that the scene where Jack and Hannah meet was completely improvised, if I remember right she also said Duplass and DeWitt hadn’t really met before filming either and that was maybe why it worked so well. The montage gave Rocky a run for its money didn’t it?

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