Iris is both Jack’s best friend and his dead brother’s ex — which makes them almost like siblings. It also complicates the not-so-platonic feelings Iris may have developed for Jack. Lynn Shelton’s 2009 film Humpday balanced an out-there premise — two straight men test their male identities by making a gay porn — with a grounded understanding of male friendship and post-twenties anxiety. Your Sister’s Sister builds upon Humpday’s emotional honesty and naturalistic humour, marking a true maturation for Shelton as a filmmaker.
A year after his brother’s death, Jack (Mark Duplass) still see-saws between emotionally wobbly and outright volatile. When he makes a scene at a memorial party, Iris (Emily Blunt) intervenes with a plan: Jack must oil up his old bike and trek to her father’s cabin on an island on Puget Sound, where isolation will give his brain a chance to detangle. When Jack gets to the woods, however, he finds not solitude but Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), herself nursing a wounded heart and a bottle of tequila. After several shots and some slurred commiseration, liquor isn’t the only fluid these two end up sharing. Their hangover descends in the form of Iris, who pulls up with a bag of groceries the next morning.
Though ripe for love-triangle trappings, Your Sister’s Sister offers an uncontrived navigation of romantic and sibling relationships. Shelton’s perceptive script proves that intimate films don’t have to be small; in fact, it is the characters’ sense of closeness that produces large-scale emotional resonances. Its humour may swing from understated to raunchy, but Your Sister’s Sister is always smart.
Shelton elicits complex performances from a simple premise. Duplass is both an endearing goof and poignantly unhinged as a man grappling with the aftermath of grief, while DeWitt and Blunt are thoroughly believable as two very loving, very different sisters. Indeed, DeWitt — already so memorable as the bride in Rachel Getting Married — puts in a breakout turn as a lovelorn but resolute woman at a crossroads. And while Blunt may be known for her performances in big-budget fare like the 2009 Festival closing film The Young Victoria, she is completely at home in this eye-level portrayal of contemporary love. –TIFF
Lynn Shelton is an American director known for writing, directing, and producing the 2009 film Humpday.
Early life, and education
Shelton grew up in Seattle. She describes herself as having been audacious as a young girl, but having lost confidence in her creativity in adolescence.This experience contributed to a theme she explored in her 2005 film We Go Way Back.
After high school Shelton attended Oberlin College in Ohio, and then the University of Washington School of Drama. She then moved to New York and attended the Master’s of Fine Arts program in Photography and Related Media at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Her thesis advisor was Peggy Ahwesh.
She started working in the film industry as a film editor, and made a series of experimental short films which have been described as “accomplished” and providing the basis for the “subtle, almost anthropological scrutiny” brought to bear in her later works.
Among the jobs she has held to support… read more
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