Ursula Meier's "Sister" fits neatly into the trend of grimly realistic social dramas coming out of the continent in the last 3 or 4 years. Telling the story of Simon, the intelligent, grew-up-too-fast, young thief and his irresponsible, easy, older sister Louise scraping through life in a miserable town at the foot of a Swiss ski resort it bears all the hallmarks of the modern, socially aware movie revealing the difficulties of the ignored and disenfranchised.
And it's not bad. The leading pair are engaging to watch and the script, while minamalist, does the job (though a few laughs here and there wouldn't have hurt). Some of the imagery works well - the lonely, silent cable car rides up and down the mountain really emphasising the gap that exists between the rich skiers and outcasts below.
The film does, however, fail to carve a unique space for itself among it's peers. The themes of a socially destructive, abandoned young boy and outcast pregnant teen were aptly covered by Luc and Jean Pierre Dardenne's "The Child" and "The Kid With A Bike" fairly recently, both better, more emotionally resonant films than this one. We are introduced to Simon in his thievery, any attempt at justification that he is stealing from rich people so it's ok failing to sink in my mind, leaving me to conclude that he's just a little shit to begin with. While I did eventually sympathise with him, it simply wasn't as powerfully as I was able to connect with the main characters from the Dardenne's films, though the crimes of their protagonists are often less forgiveable. Ultimately, this meant that the later scenes in "Sister" failed to have the punch required to serve as a climax.
The supporting cast is poorly utilised as well. The adoptive mother character (Gillian Anderson looking in her element) and the Scottish restaurant worker could both have been allowed greater impact but are instead left well on the periphery.
All in all, where this film could have succeeded, I feel others have already triumphed and this effort does too little to recommend itself to the memory.