Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

Your Sister’s Sister

This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 16th September 2012

Gaining a welcome general release after its New Zealand film festival debut, this delightful three-hander proves yet again that solid scripting, terrific characterisation and a modicum of a moral dilemma is all that is needed to deliver an audience-pleasing cinematic escape.

Emily Blunt (yes, previously accused of ubiquity in this column, but instantly forgiven because of her consistently lovable performances) plays Iris, one leg of a wobbly interfamilial love triangle. Her best friend Jack (Mark Duplass) is the terminally wry, no-hoper brother of her deceased ex-boyfriend. Following his attempted hijacking of the memorial gathering, Iris stages an “intervention”, sending him to her father’s cabin in the woods for some alone-time, where he interrupts the private respite of Iris’s sister, Hannah.

The instant chemistry between Rosemarie DeWitt, Blunt and Duplass is beautifully played out in every variation of relationship: friends, siblings, lovers. In particular, the two sisters’ mutual devotion and admiration is touching and believable, such that the eventual emotional blow presents a genuine conflict for all involved. At the same time, the story’s plausibility is key to the audience’s engagement – so if some of the plotting seems a bit convenient (in terms of pacing and advancement), at least it’s still well within the realms of the undesirably possible.

Duplass, writer and director of indie charmers Cyrus and Jeff Who Lives at Home, proves just as adept in front of the camera spouting someone else’s lines. His hang-dog face might become wearing if you’re not falling for him, but his rendition of a bloke with half a clue rings too true. The three turn a weekend by the lake into a family melodrama and an enjoyable peek into the lives of others.

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