Ladies and gentlemen, your cast.
(IFC Films)

Review by The Isolated Moviegoer:

For such a small film, Your Sister’s Sister sure packs a wallop.  With a microscopic cast and budget, Lynn Shelton’s latest work hits comedic and dramatic highs by simply focusing on its characters.  Their respective issues given the attention they deserve and filtered through a trio of exceptional performers, the interwoven relationships are allowed to evolve in a natural manner.  Though its overall path is not one typically encountered onscreen or in life, there’s not a false moment in this intimate film and it’s that consistent genuine quality that makes it a must-see.

Stuck in an emotional rut a year after the death of his brother, Jack (Mark Duplass) accepts his best friend Iris’ (Emily Blunt) offer to spend a few days at her father’s secluded lakeside cabin in hopes of getting his life back on track.  Upon his arrival, Jack is surprised to find Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) already there, likewise seeking some alone time after the end of long-term relationship.  After an awkward start, the two good-looking singles bond over a late night bottle of tequila, which loosens their lips and possibly more.

I’ll take Iris and Hannah over Tia and Tamera any day.
(IFC Films)

Your Sister’s Sister goes where those circumstances suggest…and then it doesn’t.  Before the film can proceed farther down that expected path, the unannounced arrival of Iris shakes things up.  Once all three are in the same house, they pair off in their various combinations, each of which has information to hide from the other.  Trapped in the middle, Hannah cooly handles the trust placed in her by Iris and Jack, but her own problems soon erode that ability.

What follows is a story of people getting what they need in a wonderfully roundabout way, gracefully executed by the three leads.  When Iris, Hannah, and Jack come together, which is almost exclusively for meals, the degree of dramatic irony is comedically tense and features the three leads’ dynamic at its best.

Duplass and his poor, poor bike.
(IFC Films)

Nothing here feels scripted.  Dialogue flows free and natural in a near documentary-like manner.  Give credit for this captivating truthfulness to Blunt, DeWitt, and Duplass, all of whom are listed as “Creative Consultants” in lieu of a standard writing credit.  Under Shelton’s improv-friendly direction, the trio operate with a familiarity and ease rarely seen in modern film and elevate the material to unexpected peaks.

As Your Sister’s Sister builds toward a resolution, the ultimate decisions and agreements are admittedly odd, but appropriate considering the players involved.  Each character is so carefully constructed that the unusual arrangements play right into their respective nature.  Such is the benefit of a small-scale production.  With skilled collaborators equally focused on creating truthful moments and complex relatable characters, the film can’t help but succeed.  Through this unified approach, the film gets the little details so right that the final product resonates with the emotions of a sweeping epic.  For a two-camera talkie with a cast of three, that’s a remarkable accomplishment.

Grade: A

Rated R for language and some sexual content.

Your Sister’s Sister is playing now at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Road.

For more film reviews, visit The Isolated Moviegoer.

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