Sister My Sister


Sister My Sister (1995)



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In this stark drama based on actual events in a small French town in the early '30s, a pair of repressed sisters slowly lose their grip on reality, leading to horrific consequences at the home where they're employed as maids. Christine (Joely Richardson), a domestic servant in the home of haughty widow Madame Danzard (Julie Walters), takes pride in her efficiency and deference. Raised by nuns, Christine bitterly resents her penniless mother, but remains devoted to her younger, similarly convent-reared sister, Lea (Jodhi May). When Lea, too, comes to work for Madame Danzard, Christine trains her dutifully while also driving a wedge between the girl and their mother. The sisters' emotional bond eventually becomes a sexual one, too, and as they turn inward their work suffers, leading to increasing disapproval from their employer. Meanwhile, Christine is driven mad with jealousy at what she perceives as a flirtation between Lea and Madame Danzard's sullen daughter, Isabelle (Sophie Thursfield). Tensions reach a boiling point when the widow and her daughter return home one evening to find burned garments, uncompleted housework, and the sisters holed up in their room together, smelling of sex. Adapted by Wendy Kesselman from her Pulitzer Prize-winning play, My Sister in This House, Sister My Sister was based on the true story of Christine and Lea Papin, whose grisly 1933 murders have also inspired several other works. In addition to Jean Genet's 1948 play The Maids, the incident was the basis for Jean-Pierre Denis' feature Les Blessures Assassines and the documentary En Quete Des Soeurs Papin, both released in 2000. The real-life Christine Papin died after four years in prison, but Lea was released after ten years of hard labor and lived for several more decades in another small French town. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi

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Julie Walters
as Madame Danzard
Amelda Brown
as Visitor No. 1
Lucita Pope
as Visitor No. 2
Kate Gartside
as Sister Veronica
Aimee Schmidt
as Young Lea
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Critic Reviews for Sister My Sister

All Critics (8)

This dramatization of the story upon which Jean Genet's play The Maids is based is well acted and has some powerful moments.

Jul 23, 2011 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Missable but intriguing expansion of the story that inspired Genet's The Maids.

Aug 19, 2005 | Rating: 3/5

On screen, it seems to be an effort at psychological edginess but the potentials of the medium renders the play as bland as Isabelle.

May 26, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Though the subject matter is bleak and upsetting, the narrative is intelligently told.

Apr 6, 2004 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

It's disturbing, but not half as disturbing as it seems to think it is.

Sep 21, 2002 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for Sister My Sister


Based on a true story, Sister My Sister is a tale of intolerance, repression and consequence. The pacing is exquisitely purposeful and deliberate so don't expect to be on the edge of your seat until the last 10 minutes or so.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


A fascinating and disturbing true story, but unfortunately it fails due to uninspired film making and story telling. It was often dull and bland, though it works well when the tension is finally raised. The performances were pretty good all around, especially from Joely Richardson, but ultimately her character isn't given enough development. The audience never quite buys the ultimate outcome. 2.5/5 Stars

Jeffrey Meyers
Jeffrey Meyers

Super Reviewer

I thought this was a good movie. It's definitely a quieter and more understated movie, at least until the end, and I think it helps to put the sisters' actions in a better perspective and it was also a pretty disturbing scene with the voice-over explaining what happened. They were pretty fucked up mentally, at least in the movie, who the fuck knows what happened in real life. The acting is strong, though there are some instances where Jodhi May was pretty terrible, she was up and down the entire movie. The rest of the cast was strong, with Julie Walters being absolutely tremendous. Overall I thought this was a really good 3 star movie.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

This film is a chilly and fascinating study of sexual repression and class conflict, well acted by all. The ending is a bit over the top.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

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