When we first meet Jack, the sort-of hero of "Your Sister's Sister," he doesn't seem particularly likeable.
It's at a gathering commemorating the first anniversary of his brother's untimely death. One man stands up to offer his remembrances. "He was a better friend to us than we all were to him," he says, before relating how the late Tom started volunteering the day after he watched "Hotel Rwanda."
Jack can't take the over-the-top tribute. He tells the group that he saw a very different Tom when they were children. "He was the bully. And he was quite emotionally and physically manipulative."
|'Your Sister's Sister'|
|3.5 out of 4 stars|
|Stars: Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt|
|Director: Lynn Shelton|
|Rated: R for language and some sexual content|
|Running time: 90 minutes|
He leaves the room, and a friend soon follows. But Iris (Emily Blunt) doesn't give him the lecture we expect. She understands his terribly inappropriate outburst comes from hurt, not hate. She tells Jack he should take some "alone time" at her father's island cottage. "You just sit out there, look at the water and think about your life," she says. There's no television, no Internet. "Are there forks?" Jack wonders. "Because I might need to stab myself in the face."
That "alone time" turns out to be anything but, when he arrives and finds Iris's similarly beautiful sister there. Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) has also come in search of solitude. She's just ended a seven-year relationship. This setup isn't what you think: Hannah broke up with a woman. Now, this setup still isn't quite what you think: Something does happen between Jack and Hannah, and they're surprised when Iris shows up the next morning. But the rush of things kept hidden and then revealed are pleasantly unexpected -- even when they're not at all pleasant.
The general outlines of the plot might sound as melodramatic as the eulogies to the dead Tom. But "Your Sister's Sister" feels more real than almost anything on screen this year. Writer-director Lynn Shelton has a real talent for making art out of the awkwardness of life. Rumor has it the film contains a fair amount of improvisation, though, so its odd triangle deserves much of the credit for the authenticity.
We might not know exactly what either of these women sees in the unemployed, underripe Jack. But they're winning enough for the audience to hope they get what they want. And Jack, in the end, turns out to have as much delicacy as the director of this lovely film.