We know a lot of ladies will heading to the theater this weekend for the beefcake bonanza that is “Magic Mike,” but if, like some of us, oily bohunks aren’t quite your thing, get your chick-flick fix from “Your Sister’s Sister,” a smart comedy-drama opening in Austin today, instead. Starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and former Austinite Mark Duplass, “Your Sister’s Sister” has rightfully garnered a lot of praise on the festival circuit, and it’s not surprise, considering the film comes from writer/director Lynn Shelton, who definitely has a knack for exploring how relationships are tested in unusual circumstances. She examined male friendships in the funny and moving “Humpday,” and this time puts siblings to the test.
Duplass plays Jack, whose brother, Tom, had passed away the year before. His best friend is Iris (Blunt), who is also Tom’s ex-girlfriend. With Jack’s life spiraling out of control, she sends him to her family’s remote island cabin to clear his head, but instead of finding solitude at the cabin, he finds Iris’ older sister Hannah. Jack and Hannah share a drunken night, and when Iris surprises them the next morning, things get complicated.
Cynthia and Shelby caught a sneak peek of “Your Sister’s Sister” earlier this week and emailed about it the next day:
Shelby: So the primary relationship in the movie ended up being between the sisters, played by Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt. As someone with an older sister you’re close to, how well do you think the movie reflected the bond between sisters?
Cynthia: I thought the pair both did a great job with that relationship. Did you also find the explanation as to why one had an English accent a bit forced? Blunt played a sort of wide-eyed younger sister perfectly. DeWitt managed to walk that line between obnoxious older sister who tells embarrassing stories about her little sis without hesitation, while still going to great lengths to try to protect her feelings.
S: I’m glad they addressed the accent discrepancy, even if it did feel a little forced. Plus, their dad’s marriage-hopping tendencies also helped explain why they were so close, so I felt like the explanation fed the story. I kind of wish we’d learned a little bit more about Jack’s relationship with his late brother, Tom, other than what was hinted at in the opening scene. But I think the resulting love quadrangle (rhombus?) that existed between all of the siblings felt pretty authentic.
C: Yeah, that background with their dad gave some depth to their story. I expected more to come out about Tom, but the focus had shifted so much toward the end of the film, I almost forgot about him. I think it sort of subtly emphasized the movie’s point, that while you can treasure the past, the only way to move forward is to let go and accept new life (even when it comes unexpectedly).
S: I think that’s a great way to put it. What did you think of the performances? Did anybody surprise you? In “Rachel Getting Married,” Rosemarie DeWitt’s character’s relationship to her sister (recovering addict Anne Hathaway) also played a really big part in the movie, and I think her performance in that movie was criminally underrated. Here, she was the less likable sister a lot of the time, and I thought she did a great job with it.
C: I thought Mark Duplass’ performance was pretty compelling, even though he’s understandably surly in the beginning. It was especially touching when he made his bedside confession to Blunt but hard to watch him then walk away, especially when you’re not sure if he’ll ever come back. Then there’s that uncomfortable scene where he destroys his bike… I had to admire his speech at the end though, as honest and open as it was after he had been holding back for so long. While the sister relationship is crucial to the movie, I think if they had not cast the right guy the movie would have fallen flat.
S: Totally. The chemistry between all the actors felt really organic to me, and the dialogue was really natural too. I’m assuming a lot of it was improvised, since all three lead actors (and comic Mike Birbiglia) were credited as creative consultants. So was the movie what you expected?
C: The dialogue was pretty funny (the tequila drinking scene felt very improvised in a good way). I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’d have to say that it was funnier than I anticipated since it’s ultimately a drama. When it comes down to it, I much prefer dramas that make me laugh, emphasizing not just heavy emotions but also the humor that can be found in unusual situations.
S: And the situations were definitely unusual, although maybe a little less so than in “Humpday.” Are you looking forward to seeing what she does next? And seriously, how idyllic did that cabin and all those sweaters and layers of clothes seem when we’ve been dealing with our first full week of 100-degree heat here in Austin?
C: I would definitely watch her next film. That cabin did look pretty sweet, I was wishing I had friends that would just send me out to vacation at their remote island home. And that like him, I could just go at a drop of a hat!
S: If I had a remote island home, I would definitely send you on vacation there. But I wouldn’t make you bike!
C: Thanks, I appreciate that. And the not biking part. Although biking there in sweater weather sounds very preferable to biking here right now!
“Your Sister’s Sister” is now playing at the Regal Arbor and the Violet Crown.