Harvey Critic - 11/06


You know what to expect from director Lynn Shelton if you've seen her "Humpday," about two straight dudes who after drinking and engaging in one-upmanship agree to have sex with each other in order to make a porn movie. For the sake of an experiment in art, male bonding is taken further than either had expected.

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IFC Films

Reviewed for Arizona Reporter by Harvey Karten

Grade: B
Director: Lynn Shelton
Screenwriter: Lynn Shelton
Cast: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie De Witt, Mark Duplass
Screened at: Soho House, 29-9th Avenue, NYC
Opens: June 15, 2012

Similar drunkenness and awkwardness are at hand in Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister," which, instead of featuring sex between two straight men focuses on a quickie between a straight guy and a lesbian. As with Shelton's previous pic, this one has a likeable male lead in Mark Duplass, who is currently coming up with a time-travel fantasy "Safety Not Guaranteed"-which you should look for if you go for intimate indies that cost far less to make than "Battleship" and "MIB3" and yet are more satisfying.

"Your Sister's Sister" opens on some close friends who are mourning the death Jack's brother. Jack (Mark Duplass) is in love with his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), though neither admits to more than a deep platonic relationship since Iris had been the girlfriend of Jack's brother. Generous to a fault, Iris allows Jack to clear his head by spending some time in her dad's island cabin in Washington State's Puget Sound, where he expects to be alone but instead finds company. Iris's sister, Hannah (Rosemary DeWitt) is getting over a seven-year lesbian relationship and shares a full bottle of tequila with Jack. The two have a quickie in which more time is spent looking for a condom than enjoying the dalliance. They agree that Iris should not be told about this, and in pillow talk between Hannah and Iris, the latter showing up unexpectedly, Jack is described by Hannah as just a nice stranger. As the expression goes, a half-truth becomes an untruth when the whole truth is desired.

You may have to strain to hear the actual dialogue between the sisters, which is the centerpiece of the movie, but the words-many of which are improvised-are not as important to the audience as our noting the closeness of the two women. At one point the comedy (much of the laughter centers on Jack's awkwardness as he is an unemployed mess) turns to a critical, melodramatic point that contrasts with the soft tones of the rest of the story.

The principal reason to see this film, which could easily find a place on an off-Broadway stage as it is simply a three-hander, is for the acting. Mark Duplass, who might be called "Mr. Mumblecore" for the way he can specialize in films that are low-budget and stress naturalistic acting, is as terrific in this piece as he is in "The Puffy Chair" which he wrote with his brother Jay, while Emily Blunt, in roles as diverse as the eponymous Young Victoria and Meryl Streep's first assistant in "The Devil Wears Prada," is luscious.

Rated R. 90 minutes. © 2011 by Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online.

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