Sneak Preview: YOUR SISTER'S SISTER (Lynn Shelton, 2011)

Event Date: June 5, 2012 - 7:30pm

Location: The James Bridges Theater, Melnitz Hall 1409, UCLA

Co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Women.

Iris is both Jack’s best friend and his dead brother’s ex — which makes them almost like siblings. It also complicates the not-so-platonic feelings Iris may have developed for Jack. Lynn Shelton’s 2009 film HUMPDAY balanced an out-there premise — two straight men test their male identities by making a gay porn — with a grounded understanding of male friendship and post-twenties anxiety. YOUR SISTER'S SISTER builds upon HUMPDAY’s emotional honesty and naturalistic humor, marking a true maturation for Shelton as a filmmaker.

A year after his brother’s death, Jack (Mark Duplass) still see-saws between emotionally wobbly and outright volatile. When he makes a scene at a memorial party, Iris (Emily Blunt) intervenes with a plan: Jack must oil up his old bike and trek to her father’s cabin on an island on Puget Sound, where isolation will give his brain a chance to detangle. When Jack gets to the woods, however, he finds not solitude but Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), herself nursing a wounded heart and a bottle of tequila. After several shots and some slurred commiseration, liquor isn’t the only fluid these two end up sharing. Their hangover descends in the form of Iris, who pulls up with a bag of groceries the next morning.

Though ripe for love-triangle trappings, YOUR SISTER'S SISTER offers an uncontrived navigation of romantic and sibling relationships. Shelton’s perceptive script proves that intimate films don’t have to be small; in fact, it is the characters’ sense of closeness that produces large-scale emotional resonances. Its humor may swing from understated to raunchy, but YOUR SISTER'S SISTER is always smart.

Shelton elicits complex performances from a simple premise. Duplass is both an endearing goof and poignantly unhinged as a man grappling with the aftermath of grief, while DeWitt and Blunt are thoroughly believable as two very loving, very different sisters. Indeed, DeWitt — already memorable as the bride in RACHEL GETTING MARRIED — puts in a breakout turn as a lovelorn but resolute woman at a crossroads. And while Blunt may be known for her performances in big-budget fare, she is completely at home in this eye-level portrayal of contemporary love.

Join us for a post-show Q&A with actor Mark Duplass moderated by Melnitz Movies Director Samuel B. Prime!

Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival
Official Selection, Göteborg International Film Festival
Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival
Official Selection, San Francisco International Film Festival

“A lovely example of what a surefooted filmmaker can achieve with a game and talented cast and a generous, heartfelt story – demonstrable proof that small pleasures can be the most satisfying.” –Matt Mueller, The Guardian

“The moments of quiet humor brush so softly against the moments of concern that they feel discovered and new, which could make you fall for Lynn Shelton, the sweetest property mumblecore ever produced.” –Sara Maria Vizcarrando, Box Office Magazine

“It’s easy to emotionally invest in these three actors, who play such openhearted, relatable people, and Shelton looks at the construction of the threesome’s offbeat bond with the patience and smarts of a filmmaker who trusts her actors to communicate what needs to be communicated. What ultimately emerges, then, is a hopeful, upbeat film about people finding comfort and strength in their loved ones, a rare feel-good movie that truly earns that designation.” –Robert Levin, Film School Rejects

Writer/Director: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass, Mike Birbiglia
IFC Films
35 mm, 90 min.

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