Your Sister's Sister (Blu-ray) (2011)
Audio Commentary-Director and Crew
|Year Of Production||2011|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Lynn Shelton|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
†††† It has been a busy couple of years for actor/director Mark Duplass. It doesn't seem that long ago that he was acting in Greenberg, writing and directing Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home and he recently appeared in Safety Not Guaranteed. The amazing thing is not that he has made a number of films but that they are all, in their own way, fascinating pieces of work.
†††† Your Sister's Sister from fellow mumblecore director Lynn (Humpday) Shelton is another small triumph. Small is the operative word here as the film was made on a shockingly small budget of $125,000 and shot over a two week period. The fact that Shelton is able to gather stars like Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt (just before filming as Rachel Weisz had to pull out) to her project despite the minuscule budget is a tribute to her reputation and the quality of the "script". Shelton like other mumblecore directors prefers to work without a detailed and finalised script, allowing the actors to partly improvise their performances.
†††† It is often at this point, when improvisation comes into the mix, that movie fans are either drawn to the films or repelled by them. For some watching great actors improvise dialogue to get to the truth of the scene is an exhilarating process. For others the lack of carefully thought out scripted dialogue makes the film a meaningless gabfest. Your Sister's Sister is, to my mind, one of the best examples of a talented cast bringing meaning to a story that, on paper, doesn't have outstanding promise.
†††† Duplass plays Jack, a thirtysomething unemployed schlub (something of a staple in mumblecore films) living in Washington state. It is a year after his much loved brother Tom has died and he and some friends have gathered in celebration. His best friend Iris, played by Emily Blunt, used to date Tom. When Jack makes the scene at the party, chastising everyone for hero worshipping his dead brother rather than accepting him as just another person, warts and all, Iris realises he is a mess that needs fixing. Her solution is to send Jack off to her father's house on an island outside Seattle where he can chill out and regain his mojo. Jack reluctantly agrees and finds himself outside the cabin at night struggling to find the keys. That's because the cabin already has a lodger. Irisís sister Hannah, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, has just broken up from a long-term lesbian relationship and has come to the cabin for her own brand of solace.
†††† Over a bottle of Tequila the pair talk drunkenly about their problems and failings and find mutual admiration and attraction. On an apparent whim Hannah says "go for it" and the pair wind up in bed for some brief sex. As luck would have it Iris comes to the cabin the following morning and is excited to find her two favourite people both enjoying the solitude. Jack and Hannah agree that they should never tell her about what went on but the difficulty of keeping it secret grows with the guilt. It is an inevitability that Iris will find out leading to some of the drama of the peace. Yet Your Sister's Sister also possesses a wry humour. It is at times a comedy of messed up souls and relationships.
†††† The film is essentially a three hander although there is a small role at the beginning for creative consultant, comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia. Although the dialogue is clearly improvised and at times struggles for meaning it is an absolute joy to watch three actors at the top of the game working with each other. Many would not consider Duplass a great actor as his work has been primarily in the mumblecore sub-genre and he is yet to be really tested in a scripted drama. Nevertheless his ability to evoke sympathy and understanding for a character that is at times wilful and self-obsessed is amazing.
†††† The two lead females are both stunning actresses. DeWitt has played more sisters (United States of Tara, Rachel Getting Married) than anyone can remember. I look forward to her getting the accolades she deserves in the future. Emily Blunt is nothing if not adaptable having recently performed in romantic comedies (The Five-Year Engagement) as well as science fiction films (The Adjustment Bureau, Looper). She clearly relished the opportunity to work with Duplass and DeWitt and it shows in one of her best performances.
†††† Your Sister's Sister, as previously said, may drive as many people crazy as it does entertain. For my part I found the performances riveting making it one of the better films of 2012.
†††† Your Sister's Sister was shot on high-definition digital video over a two week shooting schedule. It comes to Blu-ray in the cinematic 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
†††† In the commentary track which accompanies the film director Lynn Shelton explains the difficulty and exhilaration of working over such a limited period. The cinematographer and the gaffer had to work at lightning pace in order to provide general lighting for the scene. There was no time to develop elaborate procedures and complicated lighting.
†††† As a result some scenes are lit better than others and the effect overall is somewhat rough and ready. It is no surprise that the second unit photography, consisting of beautiful nature scenes from the area around the cabin, looks stunning, clear and crisp. The interior scenes, particularly those at night, do not fare as well. However, this is not really a criticism of the film. Part of the charm of these movies is the fact that they do not look like glossy Hollywood films.
†††† With that caveat it in mind, the film looks pretty good on Blu-ray. There is some digital noise about but the picture is quite stable and the colours are strong and vibrant. The all-important flesh tones are clear and accurate.
†††† There are no artefacts or other problems and fans of this genre and low-budget films in general will be pleased with the presentation.
††††There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired.
†††† Sound for Your Sister's Sister comes in the form of an English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track as well as an LPCM English 2.0 track.
†††† In fact, there are only the subtlest of differences between the two tracks. This is a film where dialogue is king and both tracks do a good job at presenting the dialogue. Being a mumblecore film there are numerous scenes where dialogue is whispered or slightly obscured.
†††† The surround sound is really used very little and the only time I heard the sub-woofer engaged was during a music track.
†††† The music is by mixer, supervising sound editor and general talented sound person Vinny (Vince) Smith. The score is used subtly throughout and is a good accompaniment to the film.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† This sole extra is an audio commentary track featuring a cast of thousands. As well as director Lynn Shelton we have Jeremy Mackie (gaffer), Benjamin Kasulke (director of photography), Vinny Smith (composer) and John Lavin (production designer).
†††† Regular listeners to audio commentary tracks will be aware that except in the most skilful hands gathering more than a few people to an audio commentary is a guarantee of general hilarity but perhaps not so much useful information. So it proves with this group, although in all the years of reviewing I can't say that I've ever heard a commentary track featuring a gaffer! In fact, he is a welcome addition providing details as to how the film was shot over such a limited period.
†††† It was not a stress free experience as the actress who were slated to pay Hannah, Rachel Weisz, had to pull out in order to film The Deep Blue Sea when the production window for this film got extended.
†††† An enjoyable chat.
†††† The trailer for the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
††††The US Region A Blu-ray release of this film has the benefit of an additional commentary track featuring Lynn Shelton as well as lead actor Duplass. Fans of the film should consider getting that version.
†††† Your Sister's Sister is a marvellously acted film that is a breath of fresh air when compared to most Hollywood romantic comedy/dramas. It is probably not for every film fan but I found the experience richly rewarding.
†††† The Blu-ray quality is fine given the limitations of the source material. The commentary track is enjoyable throughout.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|