Your Sister's Sister worth knowing

Rating: ***

| June 29, 2012

YOUR SISTER'S SISTER
***
DIRECTED BY Lynn Shelton
STARS Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt

Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt in Your Sister's Sister (IFC Films)
  • Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt in Your Sister's Sister (IFC Films)

The dialogue in Your Sister's Sister is so natural, flowing and unforced that it's a wonder audience members don't frequently call out the makers of other movies for penning lines that sound as if they could only have come from a screenwriter's keyboard. It isn't that there's anything wrong with sentences built with a more fanciful spin — heck, I could listen to Coen-speak all day long — but there's nevertheless a special satisfaction in hearing characters speak as if they just had arrived on the screen from the coffee shop adjacent to the movie theater.

Writer-director Lynn Shelton gets much of the credit, of course, but so do her lead performers, all asked to improvise as filming took place. The result is a disarming picture in which Jack (Mark Duplass), trying to get his life in order following the death of his brother, takes the advice of his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) and heads off to her family's isolated cabin for some quality alone time. He's surprised to find Iris' lesbian sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) at the cottage, but they quickly get acquainted, downing hard liquor together and partaking in an ill-advised fling — one made all the more unfortunate with Iris' arrival the next day.

The characters are more believable than the occasionally schematic plot, but Shelton and her cast (especially the two actresses) deserve credit for creating people who are alternately endearing, off-putting, intelligent, idiotic, sympathetic and frustrating — in short, people like us.

(Go here to read Adam Frazier's interview with writer-director Lynn Shelton.)

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