The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A movie as great as it’s small

with 14 comments

It cost 2000 times as much to make The Dark Knight Rises as to make Your Sister’s Sister. 2000. This is a bigger number than I can grasp, so I had to recheck the calculation a few times before I started to trust myself. 125 000 dollars compared to 250 000 000.  Yep, that makes a difference of 2000:1.

I know it’s unfair and irrelevant, since they are two completely different types of movies, but the thought doesn’t ask for permission but pops up in my head anyway. I liked TDKR a lot. But I didn’t like it 2000 times more than I liked Your Sister’s Sister. Give me a year and I bet it will be the small movie that stays clear in my memory, while the large one has melted down and mixed into the soup that contains every blockbuster superhero movie I’ve seen until this day.

A very small movie
Your Sister’s Sister is a small movie in every way you can think of.

Apart from a short scene in the beginning, there are only three actors in it. They don’t do anything fancy. All they do is to sit down in a cabin in the woods talking for a few days. At the most they take a stroll in the surrounding or a trip on a bike. That’s how dramatic it gets.

There are no special effects whatsoever. There isn’t even a script, not in the normal sense. The conversation that takes place is so relaxed, so natural that I can’t believe that it’s anything but improvised. And maybe that’s one of the reasons why it kept me so hooked. I felt it as if I was watching real people, people I wanted to know more about, people I could care about, since they weren’t doing yet another take on something we’ve seen in hundreds of other movies before.

I won’t go too far into the story, not wanting to spoil anything. But I can tell you as much as that it’s about three people in their 30: s: Jack, his best friend Iris and her older sister Hannah.

Devastated after the death of his brother Jack goes to a cabin belonging to her family to spend a few days in solitude, trying to get back on track. As he arrives it turns out that Hannah also is there. The two of them start to bond over a bottle of tequila. But as we all know, booze can have the effect on you that things go a bit awkward. Eventually Iris turns up at the cabin. And the rest of the movie is about this awkwardness and about the lies, half-lies and truths that lie between the three of them until everything finally is revealed, since you can’t hide things forever, not locked up with your best friend and your sister in a small cabin.

I won’t say that much more about it, more than that I urge you to watch it if you like me have a sweet spot for indie, impro style movies. It’s equally funny and gripping, simply a wonderful little piece of drama.

I think I’m starting to develop a crush on the director Lynn Shelton and the actor Mark Duplass. Previously this year I gushed over another of another movie they made together, Humpday. Fortunately I’m not the only one to fall for those. They’ve both appeared for interviews in the Filmspotting podcast and if you watch this film I would recommend you to listen to it. You’ll find it here.

Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton, US, 2012) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

August 22, 2012 at 7:37 am

14 Responses

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  1. Great review Jessica. Thanks for the heads up on this one. I think I there’s a good chance I would have overlooked this.

    Mark Walker

    August 22, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    • Thanks Mark! “Mumblecore” is not everybody’s cup of tea but I figure you’re one who can appreciate it. I’m so glad if I can help this film to get a bit more of attention. I imagine the marketing budget must be abysmal.


      August 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      • Yeah, I’m becoming more and more aware of how bad marketing can directly affect little film’s. A few of my most recent reviews have all suffered quite badly. A real shame as there are some fantastic undiscovered gems out there.

        Mark Walker

        August 22, 2012 at 8:20 pm

  2. Just a small typo – I am fairly sure “until everything finally is reviled” is meant to be “until everything finally is revealed”. 🙂

    I have a question, do you ever feel a bit of a Peeping Tom with these close intimate films? A bit like you are eavesdropping? I ask because sometimes in these kind of films I can feel qiute uncomfortable, and I am sure it is because I feel terribly rude listening to all the characters’ secrets.


    August 22, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    • Thanks! That word is one of those blind spots to me.

      Of course I’m a Peeping Tom, but that’s the point of it, isn’t it? I really love to get those glimpses into other people’s lives. At Christmans I love taking a walk late at night and then I look at the houses I pass; they look like aquariums. I see those people but I can’t hear what they say. Someone’s having a break-up. Truths and lies are told, someone will forgive, others not. Not having access to the gear they have in Harry Potter I can only imagine what happens there. When I see this kind of movies it’s as if I’m let inside. Should I feel bad about it? Maybe a little. It’s just in my nature.


      August 23, 2012 at 7:34 am

      • I didn’t mean to imply there was anything bad about it 🙂 One of the liberating thing about films (and books) of course is you can indulge one’s curiosity. I just mentioned it because in film – I don’t get the same feeling with books – I find myself sometimes becoming uncomfortable. It might be an Aspergic thing.


        August 24, 2012 at 12:09 am

  3. Oh, weren’t all three of them just so incredibly wonderful in this movie? Great performances, great dialogue… My only problem was with the third act. I felt like the tone got confused and it got TOO melodramatic compared to the rest of the material. Even so, I really enjoyed this one.


    August 24, 2012 at 3:27 am

    • I admit that it twisted in a pretty dramatic direction. But for me it worked and I was very happy with the note it ended on. Glad you enjoyed it!


      August 24, 2012 at 6:56 am

  4. Great post 🙂 I’ll definitely check this one out when I get the chance. Oh, and I can’t believe that making TDKR cost 2000 times what it cost to make this one. WOW.


    August 25, 2012 at 4:35 am

    • It’s a huge sum, isn’t it? I KNOW that you can’t say that TDKR should be 2000 times better. But still. It’s mindboggling.


      August 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      • Yes, it’s unbelievable how much money can go into these summer blockbusters. Then again, much more money comes out of them! haha


        August 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm

  5. This is a great film. Hilarious and moving. Real people with real emotions conversing how people converse. Fantastic performances.

    Andy Buckle

    August 29, 2012 at 4:53 am

    • I’ve seen your excited exclaims on Twitter about it and I’m all with you. It will end up high up on my top list of the movies of 2012, at least in my top 20, if not higher.


      August 29, 2012 at 6:48 am

  6. […] Your Sister’s Sister Three people, one cabin in the woods, a lot of improvised conversations. It was funny and gripping and I loved it. […]

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