Your Sister’s Sister subverts typical rom-com conventions

Writer-director Lynn Shelton follows up her breakthrough film Humpday with sensitive rom-com Your Sister’s Sister starring Emily Blunt & Rosemarie DeWitt…

Your_Sister's_Sister_poster1Writer/director Lynn Shelton, boosted by the calling-card success of Humpday, hits her stride with Your Sister’s Sister, a contrived but cute romantic triangle lifted shoulder-high by Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt. One year since his brother’s death, Jack (Mark Duplass) is taken aside by his best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), who tells him that he needs to stay over at her family’s holiday cabin in the woods to get away for a while to find peace and tranquillity. However, once he gets there, he finds the cabin already occupied by Iris’ sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who has only just come out of a long-term relationship with her girlfriend. That night, the two get drunk and end up sleeping together, which is made worse by Iris’ sudden presence at the cabin the next morning, and all this sets in motion a twisted tale of ever-complicated relationships between these three characters. All this results in a film that is rather charmingly done with raw, hilarious and emotional performances from the all-star, three-way cast.
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“…Your Sister’s Sister subverts typical rom-com conventions with sensitive direction, an unconventional screenplay, and a huge heart…”

Keeping a firm eye for the importance of incidentals, Shelton allows her actors free range to improvise the dialogue whilst still keeping a firm grip on the directorial rudder. Quite often in films, improvised dialogue usually results in people rambling, naval-gazing, and not actually doing anything that’s particularly dramatic. But in the case of Your Sister’s Sister, the improvisation is very well executed. While the narrative may be considered schematic, the ultra-naturalistic performances from the three main leads and loose, intimate camerawork from Benjamin Kasulke helps keep the human interaction grounded in a credible reality. Far from being mere ciphers, this mismatched trio shape up as fully rounded characters, replete with raggedy edges, compromised needs, and largely entertaining foibles, resulting in moments that were genuinely touching.

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Blunt and DeWitt are pure dynamite as the two sisters, playing as if they really have lived together for years. Blunt radiates both warmth and humour, and DeWitt expresses real genuine vulnerability and shows us the sharp edges her character wants kept hidden. Mark Duplass, as the shlubby male torn between the two sisters, is typically comic and chatty, whilst showing real naturalism. The film feels the need to tie up all the loose ends to some extent in the final act, although it does actually end on an ambivalent note, which was very pleasing and unexpected.
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Some people were really annoyed by the film, particularly finding the main characters annoying, but this wasn’t the case. The characters were well played, had interesting depth, their situations being thoroughly explored, and their company was enjoyable. Superbly acted and satisfyingly engaging at the same time, Your Sister’s Sister subverts typical rom-com conventions with sensitive direction, an unconventional screenplay, and a huge heart.

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Written by Ryan Pollard

Your_Sister's_Sister_poster1Directed by: Lynn Shelton
Written by: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass

Released: 2011 / Genre: Romance-Comedy-Drama / Country: USA / IMDB
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About the Author
Ryan Pollard is a former student of Animation at the University of Huddersfield.

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  1. Evan Crean Reply

    I’ve been hearing good stuff about this film, so it’s definitely on my list to see and it’s in my Netflix queue. I agree that improvised dialogue is very hard to pull off. It usually makes a movie aimless and idiotic, but every once and a while it works. Glad to hear that the unscripted nature and the performances both come off natural in this film. Looking forward to checking it out.

  2. Rodney Reply

    I admit I’d never heard of this one – Blunt is always good in everything she does, so I’ll have to check it out. Nice review, Ryan.

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