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Your Sister's Sister (2012)

tomatometer

83

Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 134
Fresh: 111 | Rotten: 23

Superbly acted and satisfyingly engaging, Your Sister's Sister subverts rom-com conventions with sensitive direction, an unconventional screenplay, and a big heart.

80

Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 41
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 8

Superbly acted and satisfyingly engaging, Your Sister's Sister subverts rom-com conventions with sensitive direction, an unconventional screenplay, and a big heart.

audience

66

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 23,041

My Rating

Movie Info

A year after his brother Tom's death, Jack (Mark Duplass) is still struggling emotionally. When he makes a scene at a memorial party, Tom's best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) offers up her family cabin on an island in the Pacific Northwest so Jack can seek catharsis in solitude. Once there, however, he runs into Iris' sister Hannah (Rosemarie Dewitt) who is reeling from the abrupt end of a seven-year relationship and finds solace in Tom's unexpected presence. A blurry evening of drinking concludes

R,

Drama, Comedy

Lynn Shelton

Nov 6, 2012

$1.6M

IFC Films - Official Site External Icon

Watch It Now

Cast

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All Critics (134) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (111) | Rotten (23) | DVD (1)

It's comforting to watching dramatic and comic fiction regarding the things some of us actually have to deal with in life. When done right, those kinds of films are worth your time. YOUR SISTER'S SISTER happens to be one of them.

November 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Film.com
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Movies that start well and end badly occur often enough, and yet even knowing that is no preparation for what happens to Your Sister's Sister.

January 8, 2013 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It certainly shows that fine films don't need big budgets, capturing some sweet lightning in an arresting bottle indeed.

June 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Romantic, funny, surprising and thoroughly involving, Your Sister's Sister is the rare film you give yourself over to completely.

June 28, 2012 Full Review Source: USA Today
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a nice, loose-limbed improvisatory feeling to "Your Sister's Sister," a quality that identifies it as the work of artisans, not assembly-line professionals.

June 28, 2012 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a smart, moving film that's also very, very funny.

June 28, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even when the story line tries to wrench the characters in a certain direction, they keep returning to something real and honest. I want these people to be my friends.

July 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin
Deadspin

Don't be surprised if you find yourself nodding off mid-movie, bored silly by a trio of good actors stuck in a dull scenario about a young man caught in a highly implausible kerfuffle involving two sisters and a leaky condom.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

It's not rollicking summertime fare, and it won't offer easy answers. But it's an entertaining failure -- just like its characters.

January 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Austin American-Statesman
Austin American-Statesman

There is some witty banter and some interesting developments. The acting is solid by the three leads.

January 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

I think I need a break from Mark Duplass for awhile. At least, from the Mark Duplass who isn't arguing about fantasy football with Ruxin and Taco.

December 14, 2012 Full Review Source: EntertainmentTell
EntertainmentTell

What could have been trite male wish-fulfillment is instead beholden to genuinely messy revelations: life as a tattered, living quilt we sew and wear as one.

November 5, 2012
Projection Booth

It's in the completely natural interactions between this gifted cast that the film really hits its groove.

October 24, 2012 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

For a film that relies on conversation and connection, it's awfully plot-heavy, full of "Aha!" dramatic revelations that feel more suited to a soap opera than an indie dramedy.

September 28, 2012 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

This lo-fi comedy is big on charm but was a little too shaggy for my taste.

September 27, 2012 Full Review Source: The Aristocrat
The Aristocrat

Although the action of Your Sister's Sister soars to an ultimately implausible conclusion, solid performances from Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass and Rosemarie DeWitt keep the overall piece afloat.

September 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

Your Sister's Sister is a fine piece of character observation. It's low-key, casual, and tremendously insightful. It won't be for everybody, but that's a good thing. It's a strong, focused piece of work.

September 14, 2012 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

One of the most purely pleasurable 'grown-up' films I've seen this year.

September 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

A trident of terrifically earthy performances grounds this sharp, twist-laden romantic comedy.

September 7, 2012 Full Review Source: 3AW

A wonderfully funny and uncharacteristically easy take on a genre that has been in disrepair for some time.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Trespass
Trespass

Deceptively meandering and unexpectedly complex, Your Sister's Sister combines a poignant, funny directness with a teasing incompleteness.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Right from the get-go, this indie American talkfest exudes a confidence, a composure and, dare I say it, a cool that extinguishes any cynicism in the room.

September 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
Herald Sun (Australia)

Structured more as a comedy than a drama, Your Sister's Sister is easy to like.

September 5, 2012 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
ABC Radio Brisbane

Everything that takes place on screen feels convincing as Shelton is more concerned with representing her characters truthfully rather than pushing an agenda.

September 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

Audience Reviews for Your Sister's Sister

Really nice movie. Very original depiction of an ordinary story... some very good performances. Love Emily Blunt...
April 28, 2013
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

review soon...
April 9, 2013
LWOODS04
♥˩ƳИИ ƜѲѲƉƧ♥

Super Reviewer

A good low budget movie, but the little twist at the end really annoyed me, as did Iris's acceptance of it. To me, what Hannah did was really wrong and unforgivable. There is sisterly love, and then there is "give me a break!". Sure, she didn't know of Iris's feelings at the time, but what about jack's rights? If the movie was reversed with a man doing that out of desperation, I don't think people would think that story was nice! I really hope that up in the air ending did not see Hannah rewarded!
Dubious morals aside, nice acting. Rosemarie deWitt and Emily Blunt are convincing as sisters. It's a slow moving story and very talk driven. Won't be for all tastes.
March 23, 2013
romy861

Super Reviewer

Lynn Shelton is quickly becoming one of my favorite indie film artists. Her writing and directorial offerings are somewhat relegated to the fly-on-the-wall hipster "mumblecore" category, but what separates Shelton is her narrative momentum, her laser-like focus with character, and her sense that a movie needs to build to something significant. With 2009's Humpday, it was two dudes who might have sex as a test of their masculinity (you really need to see the movie for the full context). With Your Sister's Sister, it's the full ramifications of a bunch of delicious relationship secrets getting out there. Everyone in the film has something to hide and something to lose, and watching it all play out with humor and sweetness and honesty that is rare in movies.

Jack (Mark Duplass) is still coming to terms with the death of his older brother. His best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), who was his brother's girlfriend at the time of his passing, offers a suggestion. She arranges some alone time for the guy to clear his head. He bikes out to her family cabin but is surprised to find a guest already there, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), Iris' older sister. Hannah and Jack break the ice by bonding over their personal loss: his brother and her ending a seven-year relationship with her girlfriend. Over a long night of drinking, the two decide to impulsively have sex. The next morning is even more awkward when Iris shows up at the cabin, planning to finally reveal her own feelings for Jack. What follows may be one of the few character-based sitcom plots I've witnessed.

Much like Shelton's previous movie, the greatest strength of the film is how beautifully naturalistic it all feels while still telling an engaging story. The film has a relaxed vibe that washes over you, allowing you to immerse yourself in what feels like a real group of friends. There's a tremendous naturalistic ease the film exudes, with the actors so familiar with one another that they truly feel like family. When I have well developed characters, and actors who seem so knowledgeable of their character's tics and flaws and secrets and smallest details, I could honestly listen to them talk for hours. I don't want to mistakenly give the impression that this movie is a dull yakfest where the participants are in love with the sound of their own exceptional voices. Each scene in this movie advances the plot further, twisting the screws, complicating matters, and brimming with delightful awkwardness and tension. With 2009's Humpday, I wrote: "What I really appreciated about Humpday is that every moment feels genuine and every scene has a point. I was amazed that Shelton and her small unit of actors had made it so that every conversation had purpose; there is so little fat to this screenplay. Each scene reveals something new about a character or pushes the narrative forward toward its uncomfortable climax, and each moment never breaks the reality of the story." And the same can be said for Your Sister's Sister as well.

While the premise is a bit of a sitcom novelty with some farcical developments thrown in, the depth of the characters and the fantastic acting help to make sure that Your Sister's Sister is nothing but graceful and beguiling. And the escalating conflicts, personal revelations and complicated feelings, always find a way to come across as organic to the story. That's another amazing part of the film, that even with all the sexual hijinks that it still manages to feel grounded and surprisingly relatable. These are interesting, complicated, flawed, and spectacular characters, and watching them interact, profess their love through small actions and big declarations, seeing their heartfelt camaraderie, and watch them navigate their troubled lives to find some semblance of a happy ending is a joy to watch. This is a potent little movie, fully realized, poignant, funny, and genuine.

The film was shot over the course of 12 days and Shelton has said that much of the dialogue was improvised, working off her outline. Improvisation is a dangerous tact when dealing with a dialogue-driven film, such as this one. Just because it's coming off the top of your head doesn't mean it's going to sound good. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to improv dialogue that is true to character, revealing, advances the story, as well as just being entertaining. Luckily, Your Sister's Sister is the exception.

If Your Sister's Sister does have a weakness, it's the third act that seems to stall out without giving us much in development before tidying the broken relationships up again. The film's comedic structure could feel, in lesser hands, like a generic sitcom. It is to Shelton and her actors' credit that the twists and turns still manage to feel as believable as possible. The third act hits when all the secrets come out, pushing the characters away. Rather than ramping things up, we merely endure an extended wordless sequence of images of Jack biking around and the sisters burying the hatchet. Then it's time for our big happy romantic declaration that tidies everything up, and we're done. While satisfying on an emotional level given our empathy for the trio, the third act does seem very thin for an otherwise lean and well-structured story. It feels like perhaps Shelton only had enough plot for two acts.

The main trio is a rather engaging ensemble that convincingly plays a besotted group of friends and family. Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed) has gotten considerably more attention since starring in Shelton's last movie; the man and his schlubby, smirky charm are ubiquitous. He has a way of being edgy without pushy and nonplussed and flummoxed without going overboard. Duplass has a natural fit for comedy but the man can really excel with the meatier drama bits as well, displaying the painful yearning of a man caught between his desire and the need to move on. He's a winning and likeable presence that can still be endearing even when he's flailing around or making others uncomfortable.

DeWitt (The Watch) was a late addition to the cast, replacing Rachel Weisv (The Bourne Legacy) when scheduling conflicts got the best of her. She deserves extra kudos for how good she is considering the miniscule prep time she had compared with her costars. DeWitt is amusing in how cagey and sardonic she can be, and her chemistry with Blunt (Looper) is outstanding. I greatly enjoyed the subtle nuances between them, the way their body language and gestures added extra layers to their relationship, the familiar communication and sisterly code, and just the smallest details that felt well thought out. The relationships in Your Sister's Sister feel sweetly genuine, and with the benefit of great actors, it lays the groundwork for characters we care about.

Three people sharing time in a cabin might not seem like an exciting setup for a movie, unless, of course, there's some supernatural presence murdering them in grisly fashion. However, when you lock away three great actors who know their characters inside out, a smart script that allows them the space to develop but pushes the movie forward scene-by-scene, and direction that feels seamless with the storytelling, then you have something special, and that something special is Your Sister's Sister. While I think Shelton's previous film had more at play concerning male relationships and sexual politics, this one, with a more straightforward, farcical plotline, is still plenty entertaining and with strong character work (the ending does leave one very large question unanswered). This is charming, sweet, unassuming little indie film that will provide a solid dose of smiles and laughs.

Nate's Grade: B+
January 18, 2013
boxman
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

    1. Jack: How, what, why... how did, what are you doing here?
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Iris: What ever you think is helping you, I have a responsibility as your friend to tell you that it's not.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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