A year after the death of his brother, Jack (Duplass) is still grieving, so his best friend Iris (Blunt) invites him to stay at her familys holiday cabin. Iris lesbian sister, Hannah (DeWitt), is also staying there, causing problems...
Lynn Shelton’s last film, Humpday, was one of the most ingenious comic dramas of recent years, the very funny story of two best friends who drunkenly commit to making a gay porn film together and then, because of their stubborn macho pride, refuse to back out of the deal. It was a terrific movie, partly because of its performances, partly because of the script — a subtly insightful and even quite moving study of male camaraderie — but mostly because it was a refreshing reminder of what you can actually do with very little money, a camcorder and two people in a room talking.
Shelton’s follow-up is in some ways the same film but for women, this time focusing on such issues as sibling relationships, love and — the hot-button topic raised in the final act — the right to parenthood. But although the cast is experienced and excellent, the magic isn’t quite there this time, and where Humpday galloped through its 90-minute running time, Your Sister’s Sister huffs and puffs to the finish line and finally feels more like an over-extended short than a movie.
When it works, though, it’s very good, and when Shelton is on form, there are few directors to match her. Like Denmark’s Lone Scherfig, she has a very good eye for human foibles and her characters are so richly drawn that the comedy never seems forced or scripted. This is a director who likes people and, though the trio here don’t always do the right thing — Jack (Mark Duplass) is needy, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is working to a sneaky secret agenda — there is warmth here. Are they redeemable? Sure, but Shelton has fun nevertheless with the consequences of their actions.
Given the set-up, it’s pretty clear where this is going, echoing When Harry Met Sally’s question: can men and women really be platonic friends? But nothing else is predictable. Hannah’s sexuality is fluid, so that labels like gay and straight no longer have meaning, and in Mark Duplass she perhaps has her muse. His forlorn face, blank and uncomprehending as the women run rings around him, is the true epicentre of this sweet, if not earth-shattering, chamber-piece.
This may be slight and familiar, but it also delivers a sweet-natured, poignant look at the differences between the sexes.