Your Sister’s Sister: Rated “R” (90 Minutes)
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia
Directed by: Lynn Shelton
A year ago, Jack’s brother, Tom, died. Since then Jack has been an emotional wreck as well as something of an unstable slacker, passing up on all opportunities for female companionship as well as employment. As the film opens, Jack (Duplass), Tom’s ex-girlfriend, Iris (Blunt), and a number of their friends are at a memorial party where Jack makes a scene by going counter to the practice of not speaking ill of the dead. Jack revels that Tom wasn’t always the good guy that others saw him as, but — in his youth — was something of a dick. Not wanting to see her good friend crack up entirely, Iris offers him the solitude of her family’s cabin on an island just off the coast of Seattle, WA (where they currently are), so Jack can have some alone time and perhaps achieve some self-healing.
However, once out at the cabin, Jack runs into Iris’ sister, Hannah (DeWitt), who herself is reeling from the very sudden conclusion of a seven-year long relationship who is also looking for her own solace and peace. Jack arrives in the middle of the night and — while looking for the key — happens to observe Iris wandering around the kitchen in just a nightshirt. When they finally do meet (when the startled Jack makes a noise and Iris rushes out to bean him with an oar) and Jack realizes she is Iris’ sister and reveals that he is Iris’ friend.
The “pleasantries” over, Jack invites himself in and notices that Hanna is well on her way to polishing off a bottle of tequila, and joins in. In spite of his own issues, Tom is still a very affable guy, and that coupled by her unexpected presence, he gets her to talk about her own issues (that she broke off a seven-year relationship that had gone bad some time back — leaving only after her partner started openly dating others. So, the two wind up bonding over a long night of drinking and sharing, with the long blurry evening concluding in the only way it can, with an awkward sexual incident made worse by the fact that Hannah is a lesbian, this is her first hetero experience, and well, Jack finishes way too soon for her enjoyment.
As if that wasn’t enough, the following morning Iris’ sudden presence at the cabin further complicates the matter, and sets into motion a very twisted tale of ever-complicated and confusing relationships. It is clear from the start of this very complex and moving story that there is far more going on here than initially meets the eye. This is a story of human lives that operate in a real-live very messy world, one with honest emotions, and pieces that don’t quite all fit together so neatly; which, needless to say, is what makes the film so compelling in the first place.
Everyone’s emotions get all tangled up in family, friendship, love, envy, regret, and more as everyone’s close secrets, desires, and dreams spill out over into each other’s lives. Everyone has parts of their lives that they hide from those around them, and baggage that they bring both into and out of interpersonal relationships. This is a very moving story that brings all of that to light as the lives of these three very emotional individuals play out across the tapestry of each other’s lives.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for over 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous publications, as well as on the web.