Your Sister’s Sister is one of those films that when it’s good it’s really good, but when it’s bad, oh boy does it go downhill. Lynn Shelton has a great first hour until something odd happens with the script and it gets wholly unbelievable. In its quest to be a ‘different’ romantic comedy, it goes so off the rails that it never really climbs back on, which is a shame because the performances and first hour are wonderful. Emily Blunt, an actress who hasn’t put a foot wrong in her career so far, plays Iris. She’s adorable, funny and best friend to Jack (Mark Duplass) who is having a “bad year”. She sends Jack off to her dad’s cabin where he meets her sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). After a drunken night between Hannah and Jack, Iris arrives at the cabin and some revelations come to light over a few days.
For the first hour, Lynn Shelton’s film is a masterpiece. She captures the relationship between Iris and Jack very well, including the shifts after his encounter with Hannah. The dialogue and dynamic between the characters are great and it’s hard not to love them all at first. Jack is a relatable character for the first hour, until his descent into insanity, but before that he’s lovable and you really feel for him. Hannah is a similar character at first as both are going through a painful time in their lives. It’s quite easy to find yourself rooting for them to be the couple that gets together, although it’s equally obvious that that isn’t the way the film was ever going to go. There are many routes Shelton could have taken to make this a different romantic comedy, sadly she goes down the insane route.
So, the first hour is brilliant and on course for being on the best films of the year. Then the final half hour kicks in and manages to derail it, not entirely, but enough to knock a few stars off. After a revelation regarding Hannah’s motives for sleeping with Jack, you would assume he would leave the lives of the sisters forever. It is utterly unbelievable that he decides to come back and work it out with them. The only explanation is that he thinks he cannot live without Iris and the only way for him to have her in his life is to have Hannah there too. Otherwise, it’s a ridiculous notion that anyone would accept what was done to him, and as calmly as he eventually does. This section of the film really lets the first hour down. It’s a seemingly endless montage of cycling, walks, awkward kitchen encounters and (admittedly lovely) shots of the surrounding countryside. The ending is an interesting one; it’s nicely ambiguous and actually works quite well. There’s no need for the film to carry on after the final scene, partly because the script has disintegrated so much by that point that any more would ruin the film entirely.
On the whole, Your Sister’s Sister is actually pretty good. Unsurprisingly, for a film of this kind, the DVD has no extras except a trailer. It’s a shame though, as an interview with the cast and director would have been interesting, or a commentary. The three performances hold it up as best they can, and Emily Blunt can do no wrong. Lynn Shelton has done her best to give us a romantic comedy with a difference, but the difference is so obscure and she doesn’t quite manage to pull it off. Given a different ending, perhaps the one I discussed with a fellow critic involving a Match Point-esque ending (not really…), it would definitely be one of the best films of the year.