The term romantic comedy sends such shivers through me (akin to gross-out words like secretion, swab or exercise) it’s easy to dismiss a film based almost entirely on this description – current theatrical competition for ‘romantic’ ‘comedy’ is Hope Springs, an embarrassing waste of very talented people. Luckily for little independent film Your
Sister’s Sister, it is crafted by smart people with next to no money but whale-penis-sized talent so the end product is refreshing, memorable and worthwhile.
Lynn Shelton (writer/director) was responsible for the underrated indy Humpday from a few years back, and there was enough spark there to show that she had more to bring to the table. Your Sister’s Sister is the proof of this. Possibly the smartest, best written romantic adult drama/comedy (the word ‘dramedy’ also makes me queasy) this year so far. It tells the story of best friends Jack and Iris , dealing with recent grief at a remote family cabin, and a surprising encounter with Iris’ sister Hannah sets off an awkward unfurling of emotional coils. It sounds like maybe you have heard this story a hundred times before, but that old saying – it’s not what you’re saying it’s how you say it – comes into place in the opening scenes and you realise you’re in safe hands. There is no cliché, the film took a turn halfway I did not see coming, and the dialogue (mostly improvised) is so brutally honest it had me weak.
Jack and Iris are pretty stock standard as far characters go but they are given a decent humph of life by more than capable actors, Mark Duplass and Emily Blunt, but it’s the sister Hannah, Rosemary DeWitt, who is both bold and underlined as the standout here. She is far more complex than you give her credit for when you first meet her and she bares the most of the grit here, and DeWitt is more than capable to shred the screen around her. Emily Blunt is reliably solid (despite the at-first irritating British accent that is shrugged off by a one-sentence explanation) and flits about nicely. Mark Duplass is an odd one. I have seen him in a few things (notably Humpday, which I mentioned before) and there is something oddly hypnotic about him. He’s good looking without being terribly handsome, and on screen he has this natural charisma with the camera that works wonders – I think he’s fantastic.
Some scenes are so awkwardly real they had me squirming, almost begging them to end while not wanting to take my eyes off the screen. Others are so well executed I stopped breathing for fear I would miss anything (the inevitable fight scene toward the end an example of this bliss). That the film was reportedly made for something crazy like $125,000 (scabs on the leg of the budget of any other romantic comedy Hollywood churns out) is incredible, and shows that money don’t buy talent (take note Kardashians everywhere). So instead of heading out to watch another Bourne film or another shitty romantic comedy with Sarah Jessica Parker or Jennifer fucking Aniston, check out this little indy gem, it’s actually worthy of your time.