DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
YOUR SISTER'S SISTER (director/writer: Lynn Shelton; cinematographer: Benjamin Kasulke; editor: Nat Sanders; music: Vinny Smith; cast: Emily Blunt (Iris), Rosemarie DeWitt (Hannah), Mark Duplass (Jack), Mike Birbiglia (Al); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Steven Schardt; IFC Films; 2011)

"Thrives on awkward moments."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Ms. Lynn Shelton ("Humpday") directs and writes this indie romcom that thrives on awkward moments and a bit of farce. Though it gives the impression it will delve into heavy going relationship matters, the film fumbles its opportunities and the trite conversations, speechifying and contrived situations bring the film to a slow drowning of its emotions.

At a Seattle memorial service for Tom, a tanked-up Jack (Mark Duplass), whose late brother departed the world a year ago, tells the mourners that his brother was to be admired as a conniver and not the altruist the other speaker (Mike Birbiglia) suggests. The unemployed, unhinged Jack is comforted by the more stable Iris (Emily Blunt), Tom's former girlfriend and his best friend, who says he needs to get his head cleared and recommends he goes to her isolated family island getaway home off the coast of Washington State and spend some time alone. Arriving at the island cottage late at night, Jack is surprised to find Iris's lesbian sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) there and the anguished lady is drinking tequila to forget her seven year relationship with Pam just ended. The two troubled souls end up getting smashed and sleeping together. The next day Iris shows up and Jack is too ashamed to reveal that he screwed her sister.

The slight plot is played to death, as we wait to see what Iris's reaction will be when she discovers that she loves Jack and he has been naughty with sis. Too bad the trio are unsympathetic self-absorbed whiners, who wouldn't know what a big problem was even if it hit them in the face like a big vegan pizza pie. The film lost its way on the idyllic island, and could only resolve things falsely. It happens after the twenty-something Jack throws a tamper tantrum over riding a bike like a kid and smashes it. This supposedly means Jack has grown up and thereby takes responsibility for his actions by telling the sisters what's in his heart. Things then get tied up in a neat ribbon, and any lingering chaos over the incident is squashed in the name of a safe picture. But, I must say, even though I wasn't much impressed with the movie, I can't say it doesn't capture how many dumb relationships are carried on in such a confusing manner. It's only too bad the film also goes dumb and thereby becomes so meaningless.

REVIEWED ON 8/19/2012       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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