The Sisters Brothers Reviews
The Sisters work for a mysterious crime lord "The Commodore" in 1850's Oregon. They do the dirtiest of his dirty work. They are sent to track down someone who has "stolen" from the Commodore (Riz Ahmed) and are to meet up with another gentleman (Jake Gylenhaal) who is already on Ahmed's trail. We see Gylenhaal meet and become sort-of friends with Ahmed, and the two men lead the Sisters Brothers on a wild chase into Gold Rush country. Adventures are had on the way, and the final third or so of this lengthy movie takes turns that are so unexpected, I won't even hint at them here...except to say that these moments are touching and frustrating and show the film at its most "McMurtry-esque."
So, the plot is nicely complex without being too much. The events that occur are dramatic and well-done. The film peppered with small, interesting performances. And Ahmed and especially Gylenhaal do very nice work here. Jake is quite effective. But the film belongs, as I had hoped, to its two stars.
Phoenix has been giving some interesting performances lately, including this film and the underseen HE WON'T GET FAR ON FOOT. He has aged perfectly into playing these reckless, fatalistic characters...world weary, driven to reckless action by a desire to DO instead of THINK (or reflect). His Sisters is the one eager for the fight, but also the more cunning brother. It takes a LONG time to warm up to this guy.
Reilly is the real reason to see this film. I think back about 20-23 years, when he was in great, generous, bursting-with-goofy life supporting performances in films like BOOGIE NIGHTS, MAGNOLIA, CHICAGO and even the woeful THE PERFECT STORM. A great, likeable lug. Yet, in films like MAGNOLIA, even when surrounded by massive star power...he became the one we rooted for. The one we related to. His less than movie star visage, couple with an emotional openness just made him so much fun to watch. Then his career evolved into broad comedies (so many with Will Farrell) that made him so popular (TALLADEGA NIGHTS is the prime example). But even then (see WALK HARD, please), there was a humanity and a sense of being grounded in reality that he couldn't shake off. But seeing THE SISTERS BROTHERS took me back to his early days, when his simple, authentic, open style made him so effective. I was thrilled to enjoy him in such a role again...and it's extra great because he is really a co-star and not a supporting actor here. He and Phoenix play off each other particularly well, and I strongly encourage fans of quirky but flawless performances (with strong stomachs) spend a couple of hours with this unforgettable pair.
Ok the sequel is going to be called The Brothers Sisters. Just joking. This is a good complex story. In lesser Westerns only the other guys die in gunfights. In The Sisters Brothers this is unfortunately true too. But the hooks of a nasty life with assorted mechanisms guaranteeing mortality allow the storyline to leave room for empathy with the surviving characters.Remember this is Hollywood, so watch out for a burning horse, bad bro haircuts, a spider walking into an open mouth, an amputation, glowing gold, and chemical burns along the way. Detailed characters are illustrated by the cast. Not Hostiles, but good. The storyline may be too synthetic for the average movie watcher who will be looking as usual for more wasted ammo. Giddy-up!