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With: Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mike Birbiglia
Written by: Lynn Shelton
Directed by: Lynn Shelton
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 90
Date: 09/11/2011

Your Sister's Sister (2012)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Sibling Privacy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Lynn Shelton's previous movie Humpday relied too heavily on an artificial situation, but the story of Your Sister's Sister springs more naturally out of the characters, and their needs and desires.

On the one-year anniversary of his brother's death, Jack (Mark Duplass), is distraught and makes a scene at a party. His best friend Iris (Emily Blunt) offers to let him stay in her family's cabin, to relax and reflect. When he arrives, he discovers Iris' lesbian sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who has just ended a long-term relationship, already staying there. After a night of drinking and talking, the two tumble into bed together. This causes many awkward moments and uncomfortable situations when Iris unexpectedly shows up the next day. Can these relationships survive the secrets that will eventually come out?

Shelton creates a small, safe universe in which the characters have room to breathe. Their behavior -- a mixture of scripted and improvised -- springs from a natural place, and while that can be uncomfortable as well as funny, it never rings phony or plastic.

Shelton is also to be commended for making a film with so few characters and making it feel cinematic, and open, rather than constricted like a play. The characters achieve a balance, but also, the spaces around them are part of the balance (the cabin, woods, and water provide a peaceful tone). It almost goes without saying that the actors really excel, and that the movie runs the gamut of emotions: funny, sad, tense, and romantic. Comedian Mike Birbiglia appears in a crucial opening scene.

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