Sister (L'enfant d'en haut) (2012)

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Released 19-Mar-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 93:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ursula Meier
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Lea Seydoux
Kacey Mottet Klein
Martin Compston
Gillian Anderson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music John Parish


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     A picturesque ski resort in Switzerland is probably the last milieu you would expect to set a movie about a young hustler and his good-for-nothing sister. Yet this film, from Swiss director Ursula Meier expertly uses the playground of the rich and famous to contrast the lives of the underclass. This superb film is a meditation on identity and belonging.

     The sister of the title is French breakout star Lea Seydoux who made such an impression in Blue Is the Warmest Colour and was most recently seen in the Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel . She lives with her younger brother Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) in a tower housing block near a freeway at the very foot of the Swiss Alps. Each day Simon makes the long trek to the cable car and works his way to the top of the mountain where he goes about the careful task of pilfering ski equipment, valuables and even food from the wealthy resort dwellers. He sells off the takings to the local kids and anyone else who will buy the stuff.

     His own needs are fairly modest however any spare money he gives to his beloved sister. Her response is generally to take the money and take off with the man of the moment. She has a very low degree of sibling responsibility and in the absence of their parents they live a bizarre life. Simon has nothing except his thieving to keep him going.

     This is not a heavily plotted film. The seismic shifts in his life come with the paths he crosses with two inhabitants of the mountain top. One is a chef (Martin Compston) at a restaurant who buys some of Simon's gear and tries to knock "improving your life" lessons into him at the same time. The other is a mother of two children (Gillian Anderson) who becomes something of a maternal figure for Simon. It should be said that despite the prominent picture of Gillian Anderson on the cover of the DVD her role is quite small, though it is pivotal.

     As said, this is not a heavily plotted film. The changes in dramatic upheavals in Simon's life are timed with the snow season with the film ending as the thaw begins and the mountaintop becomes deserted. There is a major twist halfway through the film that I won't spoil. The acting of the young Klein is superb and his interplay with Seydoux is sublime.

     This is a film that will appeal to fans of the Dardenne Brothers who create slices of desperate lives amongst the normality of ordinary existence. It was the Swiss submission for the Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards in 2013.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Sister was shot on high-definition digital video. It was shown at the cinemas in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This ratio has been preserved for the DVD release. It is 16 x 9 enhanced.

     The film is sharp to look at.

    The colours are at times vivid, particularly on the mountaintop, although the apartment settings and the general tone of Simon's life are reflected in drab colours.

     The flesh tones are accurate right down to the rosy cheeks in the freezing snow.

     There are no technical problems with the transfer.

    There are burnt in subtitles in English for the foreign language segments of the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Sister comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack which alternates between French and English. It runs at a 448 Kb/s bit rate.

     The surrounds and sub-woofer are used only subtly in keeping with the nature of the film. That is not a criticism.

     The English segments are when Gillian Anderson or Martin Compston interact with Simon. These conversations are usually conducted in a blend of halting English and French.

     The dialogue is clear and easy to understand.

     The soundtrack is by John Parish who many may know from his work with PJ Harvey. It is a subtle but evocative score.

    There are no technical problems with the sound transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras with this DVD.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   

    The Region 2 French version of this DVD contains numerous extras including interviews. It is a pity that these were not ported over to this release and subtitled. However I notice that the Region 1 version of this DVD also has no extras. For English speakers buy local.

Summary

    It is difficult to know what exactly makes Sister such a good film. The reality of the characters and the quality of the acting carries the slice of life story to great heights and it is built on a strong script. The DVD is of good quality in both sound and vision terms.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony 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 DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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