Iris invites her friend Jack to stay at her family’s island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack’s drunken encounter with Hannah, Iris’ sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.
Lynn Shelton’s ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ opened the 2012 Glasgow Film Festival and received a near-rapturous response. This is a keenly observed tale of individuals as complex and frail as you, me and everyone we know…
Iris commemorates the passing of her partner Tom at a gathering of Tom’s friends, where Jack, her best friend, offers up a less than flattering eulogy. Jack, coincidentally Tom’s sibling, is packed off to a remote island lodge to get his head together, where he encounters Iris’s sister, Hannah. Complications ensue – by the bucket-load.
Shelton took time to explain her process in the Q&A at the Glasgow Film Theatre screening. The cast improvised to a certain extent, but spent a vast amount of time creating back-stories for their characters. That preparation pays off in naturalistic exchanges, interruptions and repairs, gestures and looks that remonstrate, encourage or deter in a convincingly authentic manner. The film is very, very funny, and then genuinely touching and fraught. Throw in an ending you will either love (like me) or loathe, and you have a mature, entertaining film whose execution and polish defies the 12-day shooting period.
Wonderful performances from Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass as the conflicted trio. Blunt gets to explore more range here than My Summer of Love or anything else on her CV, and shows a growing maturity. The film is involving from the very first frame and holds your attention throughout. Shelton has found a refreshing formula. Bigger budgets and less challenging schedules may follow, but one hopes the stringent process remains.
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