By Don Simpson | April 23, 2012
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writer: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Bayley, Jeanette Maus, Jennifer Maas, Dori Hana Scherer, Evan Mosher
A year after the death of his brother, Jack (Mark Duplass) is still having difficulties dealing with things. So Jack’s best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) — who just so happens to be the ex-girlfriend of Jack’s deceased brother — sends him off on a solitary bike trip to her family’s secluded house on the San Juan Islands. When Mark arrives, he discovers Iris’ sister Hanna (Rosemarie Dewitt) — who also happens to be using the house to recover from a recent emotional trauma (a nasty break-up with her long-term girlfriend). Mark and Hanna decide to both stay in the house with the understanding that they will give each other the space that they need. Well, at least that is until they bond over a bottle of tequila — then they get really cozy (maybe a bit too cozy).
The already uncomfortable morning after intensifies with the unexpected appearance of Iris. This is where Your Sister’s Sister quickly turns into a claustrophobic chamber piece in which the three characters are forced to confront various revelations head on and take their due turn playing the third wheel in an incredibly awkward threesome. This is also Lynn Shelton’s (Humpday, My Effortless Brilliance) strong suit — developing emotionally complex and multifaceted narratives that are confined to a small number of characters in a single location.
Other than one moment of all-too-expository dialogue in which we are informed why Iris has an English accent and Hanna does not, the conversations are all incredibly organic and natural. Despite its strong female perspective — both from straight and lesbian vantage points — the writing in Your Sister’s Sister provides Jack with a majority of the best lines. Nonetheless, it is Hanna who becomes the most complex and meaningful, as she grapples with lesbianism and her desire to have a baby.
That said — I was not too pleased with the anti-vegan jokes and the recurring desire of Iris and Jack to persuade (and sometimes trick) Hanna into eating animal-based foods.
Also check out Caitlyn Collins’ 7 out of 10 review of Your Sister’s Sister.