Mark Reviews Movies

Your Sister's Sister


2 ˝ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Lynn Shelton

Cast: Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt

MPAA Rating: R (for language and some sexual content)

Running Time: 1:30

Release Date: 6/15/12 (limited)

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Review by Mark Dujsik | June 15, 2012

There are far more complex emotions swirling around in Your Sister's Sister than the final act of characters moping around and not doing much of anything suggests. Jack (Mark Duplass) is devastated by the death of his brother a year ago. He cannot reconcile the perfect man his brother's friends imagined him to be with the kid with whom he grew up. Somewhere along the way, his brother overshadowed Jack, and, even in death, he's trying to get out of the shadow.

This is especially rough because Jack has feelings for Iris (Emily Blunt), who once dated the brother but ended the relationship because she didn't think it was going anywhere. She doesn't necessarily feel guilty about the breakup, but when everyone at the first memorial get-together has nothing but wonderful stories to tell about the man, she probably can't help but feel that a few eyes are looking at her, wondering how on Earth she could have possibly left such a great guy.

Jack and Iris have become good friends—the sort that know exactly what the other is thinking and feeling without any effort. After Jack makes a drunken toast to the "real" man his brother was (The scene is so successful at blending the comic awkwardness of everyone at the party and the unbridled honesty of Jack that it's a bit surprising that writer/director Lynn Shelton drops the entirety of Jack's mourning for his brother afterwards), Iris knows something is wrong and offers to let him stay at her family's vacation house in the middle of nowhere, where he can take some time to himself.

There, he runs into Iris' sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who has just broken up with her girlfriend. The two drink a lot of tequila, gossip, and drink a lot more tequila. He mentions that she's attractive; she's a bit flattered. He mentions he would have sex with her if she weren't a lesbian. Later, she decides to take him up on the offer.

The next morning, Iris shows up, and suddenly Shelton's breezy dialogue and attention to what the characters divulge (and what they reveal by omission) during those conversations are gradually replaced with something much broader and far less satisfying. Jack wants to make sure he doesn't let Iris know he and Hannah had sex; he makes Hannah promise she won't disclose the information, either. Hannah, having no emotional connection or sexual attraction to Jack (Let's just say the sex scene is played for comedy), doesn't think it's that big of a deal until she starts watching Jack and Iris together.

The secret simply places too much external pressure on the characters; the conflict is already there. It may be internal, but it's there. It comes out in sweet, tender scenes of these characters lying in bed together late at night, talking about one thing while trying to hold back the desire to say what's really on his or her mind. The one-night stand between Jack and Hannah gets in the way even of these scenes.

The cast manages to overcome that sword of Damocles hovering above them, but the story rapidly falls apart when the bonds between the characters do as well. Your Sister's Sister sets up a scenario with no easy solutions only to retreat to the simplest ones.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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