Jack (Mark Duplass) is having a hard time dealing with the death of his brother. His life has no traction, which prompts his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), to suggest he take some time to himself at her family’s rural cabin.
Jack agrees, but when he arrives at the cabin he finds Iris’s half-sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), already settled in, seeking solitude after walking out on a seven-year relationship.
Jack and Hannah hit it off over a bottle of tequila and then that’s where things get, well, complicated. This is the setup for the sweet, funny, talky romantic drama “Your Sister’s Sister” that expertly peels back the layers of three complex relationships with surprising and heartfelt results.
The movie has garnered a lot of well-earned buzz on the film-festival circuit because it boasts several trademarks of the best indie films, such as great performances by unheralded actors, convoluted melodrama, and cozy, no-frills interior shots.
If you’re looking for the perfect counterbalance for all the summer blockbusters rolling off the Hollywood assembly line, this is your movie. I’m pretty sure they made this thing for the same cost as a single day of craft services on the set of “The Avengers.”
The success of a movie like this all boils down to the cast and all three actors rise to the occasion while bringing the best out in each other.
DeWitt supplies her character with a lot of hidden baggage, which makes her a bit of a wild card in this scenario. Hannah clearly loves her sister, but she proves several times she’s not afraid to be careless with Iris’s feelings.
It is interesting that as the actress with the highest profile, Blunt winds up playing the most straightforward character. She gets some nice moments towards the end of the film, but she takes the fewest chances here. Maybe she felt that just showing up in such a low-budget movie was risky enough.
The real star of the movie turns out to be Duplass, who has had a busy year, both behind the camera directing movies with his brother, Jay (“Jeff Who Lives at Home), and acting in other indie fares (“Safety Not Guaranteed”).
Here he takes Jack, a sad sack, borderline obnoxious character who engages in a little too much navel-gazing and turns him into someone you find yourself rooting for.
Duplass has a strong sense of comedic timing, but he also injects a lot of tension into every scene because Jack is capable of saying the wrong thing at any given moment.
“Your Sister’s Sister” was written and directed by Lynn Shelton, who crafts the film as if it were a nervy, two-act stage play spooling out in front of the stunningly scenic backdrop of the Pacific Northwest.
But perhaps what is most impressive about Shelton’s work is how she gets out of the way of her actors and lets them push their characters into interesting places while making sure she reigns them back in at the right time to hit the right emotional beats that are essential to the plot.
Like a cool breeze, there is a light and fluffy feel to “Your Sister’s Sister” that makes it the perfect palate cleanser in the middle of a hot, sweaty summer of explosions and superheroes.
It’s not a movie for the impatient, but for those willing to sit back and let the film do its work, it winds up being a nice little cinematic treat.
“Your Sister’s Sister” is rated R for language and some sexual content.