Your Sister’s Sister Dir. Lynn Shelton

[IFC; 2012]

Styles: mumblecore, dramedy
Others: Humpday, Baghead, Mutual Appreciation

[N.B. We have a new film editor over here at Tiny Mix Tapes. (Editor’s note: He’s talking about me.) A section edict was pronounced shortly after he took office, which I bring up explicitly by way of explanation for certain comparative irregularities in the diction of this review. (Editor’s note: The “edict” Mr. Terhaar is referring to is an email in which I jokingly told him that I would be requiring a minimum number of boner jokes per film review.) Surely you know me, dear reader, as a conscientious and articulate craftsman of theoretically informed and politically engaged criticism. That approach is poor in some of the frankly juvenile qualities now most highly valued and cultivated in the film staff. Now I will attempt to rectify past errors; kindly pardon me if I overcompensate for felt inadequacies in scatology by exceeding the quota for boner jokes.]

Merely Mentioning Her Shaved Bush Brings Emily Blunt To Tears [LOL]
Emily Blunt on Mortifying “Bush”-Shaving Story Caught on Film [LOL]
Emily Blunt: Tears were down to joke about my bush [LOL]
Emily Blunt Is A Much Better Actress If You Tease Her About Her Pubes [LOL]
PHOTOS: Emily Blunt On Shaving Her Bush And Michelle Obama’s Skin [LOL]

Bring on the photos, am I right? Emily Blunt is a serious cause of Bull Enmity. Hotter than a marijuana-stuffed flaming baseball bat, that’s what I always feel like saying about her. Speaking of which, THANK GOD the filming schedule was delayed, forcing Rachel Weisz to drop out so that she could film The Deep Blue Sea (which was a film about genetically modified killer sharks that could swim in reverse, last time I checked). Rosemarie DeWitt is way hotter and does not have More Wearied Tits — more like Readier Meow Tits, am I right?

Lynn Shelton is Nth Lens Only (any fewer than the nth lens and your retinas disintegrate in the heat of her seductive countenance). But she doesn’t appear on screen, so it ain’t doing us any good. Maybe she should have had Mark Duplass and his brother Jay direct this one; then it might not be marred by the melodramatic sequence following the climax and preceding the titillating conclusion. (If you want an idea of the quality of melodrama, this photo approximates it pretty well.) Or maybe Andrew Bujalski should have directed it. Hell, Kelly Reichardt might have done something crazy with it.

Well, I’m out of jokes and I haven’t explained anything about the film, so let’s bust this off minuteman-style. Jack (Mark Duplass) is still mourning his brother. Said dead brother’s ex-girlfriend and Jack’s best friend, Iris (Emily Blunt), sends Jack to her family’s cabin in the woods to get his shit together. Wrinkle: Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is staying at the cabin to recover from a nasty breakup. Iris shows up the next day (despite having told Jack he’d be on his own); things get real quickly. My only complaints: (1) the above-mentioned trite comedown during which the characters pathetically delay narrative inevitability, and (2) a dig at the quality of vegan food.

Oh, and boner.

[Having been informed that this review lacks “heft” (Editor’s note: Not actually a direct quote.), I present the following paragraphs for further consideration.]

I’ve never seen Mark Duplass in a film I disliked. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about honesty and/in acting, but honesty is the aspect of this and akin films that I think deserves the most attention, not only as an affect but as a structuring principle. The impression I get when I watch Duplass perform (and in this case, Emily Blunt and Rosmarie DeWitt, too) is that he aims not at reality in performance but at performance in reality. (Remember when in 1990 Judith Butler taught us that identity is performative?) Duplass doesn’t give convincing performances; he gives performances that expose some ways in which we are all unconvincing. (We are petty, insecure, mean, manipulative, and generally messed up, as well as funny, generous, and caring.) Good directors recognize the power of this well-written improvisatory approach; they honor the almost-sufficiency of acting by paring down the supplements (which become impositions) of music and editing. That’s where Your Sister’s Sister comes up short, as I mention above: too much ambient sentiment betrays embodied emotion. But prior to the forced catharsis post-climax, we get exactly what we need from these three characters in this situation, at the right pace, uncomfortably.

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