I figured that any movie starring Emily Blunt would be good, but Your Sister’s Sister fails to take advantage of its cast due to its slow plot. There’s a reason the story is uneven at times, and it undermines the movie as a whole; ultimately the movie plays out more like real life than a scripted movie, and there’s a reason for this.
The film opens with a group toasting to the memory of their friend Tom, who died a year earlier. Tom’s brother, Jack (Mark Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed), almost ruins the party by giving a melancholy toast, so his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) suggests he take some time for himself and relax at her father’s cabin; they live in Washington and the cabin is right on the lake, making it a great spot to “get away” for the weekend. Jack decides to bike to the cabin (as well as take the ferry), and when he arrives he encounters someone unexpected: Iris’s sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt, TV’s United States of Tara), who came there to get away as well, having just broken up with her girlfriend. The two of them have a lengthy conversation in the kitchen and then (even though Hannah is a lesbian) they decide to have sex; though Hannah “hasn’t ridden that bicycle in a while,” as she puts it, she likes Jack — and both of them are pretty drunk.
The next morning they’re in for a surprise when Iris comes up to the cabin to check up on Jack. Jack pleads with Hannah to keep their one-night stand a secret, but Iris then tells Hannah that she is in love with Jack. Hannah must decide whether she should tell Iris or not about their encounter, and Iris has to decide if she wants to tell Jack about her feelings for him.
Some of the scenes in Your Sister’s Sister are solid, but others are long, overly drawn out, and extremely awkward. That’s because much of the movie was improvised; I did some digging and found that the director only wrote about 70 pages of a script, then encouraged the actors to get a feel for their character and improvise as they filmed. I recently saw Mark Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed, where he was great, so I was looking forward to seeing him in this film, but I much preferred him in Safety, even though he was able to break some of the tension in this movie just by standing around awkwardly or making a funny face.
No, don’t see this film. I really wanted to give it a “Maybe” review, and some of you who see it might like it, but I couldn’t wait until it was over, even with its short 90 minute runtime. I was actually thinking about walking out during the first 20 minutes or so, but then it gets better, largely due to the acting by Blunt, Duplass, and DeWitt. There’s almost no music in the film too, which also makes it seem more “real,” and I feel like it would have benefited by using more, even if it was instrumental or very low-key. The actors in it definitely deserve kudos for their improv work here; however, I like going to the movies to see scripted situations that play out like real-life situations, not real-life situations that contain the awkwardness of what I could find, well, in real life.
Your Sister’s Sister is currently in theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 90 minutes.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5