Emily Blunt Rosemary DeWitt and Mark Duplass carry this intimate indie with aplomb. Your Sister's Sister starts with a strange premise that could be the basis of a manic romcom but is kept grounded by an excellent cast and script.
Jack (Duplass) has spent a year mourning his dead brother. He's a total mess but his best friend Iris (Blunt) also the ex-girlfriend of Jack's dead brother steps in with some tough love and directs him to take a sabbatical at her family's home on an island off the coast of Seattle. Unfortunately her older sister Hannah (DeWitt) is also there in search of solace after breaking up with her long-term girlfriend. Hannah and Jack mourn their lost loves over a large bottle of tequila and wake up with monster hangovers…and a surprise visit from Iris.
Your Sister's Sister a messy funny and sometimes sad love story about family. Who do you choose to be in your family? What exactly can you forgive when people you love go too far? Writer/director Lynn Shelton starts with an odd farcical proposition similar to her debut Humpday wherein two buddies decide they have to prove their friendship their open-mindedness and their heterosexuality by making a porn movie together. Shelton takes similar risks with ideas about the fluidity of sexuality and love but pushes it forward in Your Sister's Sister. Its emotional risks are more real. The bond between Iris and Hannah is tangible and complicated. Iris worships her older sister she climbs into bed with her and whispers secrets to her in the dark but she is also a grown woman who is abruptly forced to face Hannah's all-too-human flaws. Jack is he weakest character but Duplass plays him as the likeable but screwed-up shaggy dog type he's known for in the indie world. DeWitt and Blunt are perfectly matched although one would be hard-pressed to otherwise cast them as siblings albeit half-sisters. They play off each other perfectly and the best example of this is a joke Hannah lobs at Iris during dinner that DeWitt ad-libbed.
Like its characters and writing the cinematography feels wider in scope and more breathable in Your Sister's Sister. Cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke captures both the intimacy of three people trying to keep secrets from each other in a small house as well as sweeping views of the woods and water surrounding them. The direction is more sure-footed and less dependent on the intense close-ups that dominated Humpday. The end result is a fleshy delicious love story. It's savory and joyous and leaves the viewer with some hope for love — all types of love.
Blonde and boyish drifter Mark (Kip Pardue) washes up onto North Carolina's beaches mysteriously talking about a quest for loggerhead sea turtles. Mark befriends a local hotel manager George (Michael Kelly) who's gay. George invites Mark to stay for free. They start a romantic relationship despite Mark revealing he's HIV-positive. Middle-aged Grace (Bonnie Hunt) a little crazy pines to meet the son she gave to adoption years ago. A third story brings the other two together: a gay-hating minister (Chris Sarandon) and his homebound wife (Tess Harper) disown their gay son who ran away from home as a teenager. Loggerheads--though not brilliant--is three quality stories becoming one. Hunt disappears into her kooky dramatic role surprisingly well. She's usually the soft-faced lead in warm fuzzy comedies like Cheaper by the Dozen but strongly plays against type here. Harper relegated to indies and TV movies for the past decade is like a forgotten revelation. She conjures buried memories of her '80s roles like Tender Mercies or Crimes of the Heart. Pardue and Kelly are a formidable duo as two young men sharing an affair cautious yet intimate. They don't reveal too much to the audience too early. As a fresh-faced transient Pardue is believable as someone we don't trust entirely and as a gay character he doesn't conform to the caricature stereotypes. Kelly previously seen in 2004's Dawn of the Dead is serviceable in his conflicted role. Chris Sarandon is perfectly detestable as the rigid minister. Critics say Loggerheads lapses into misshapen periods of melodrama leaving the audience plenty of time to lose focus. Earnest lame folk music induces eye rolls. I wouldn't disagree--but the film's pacing is its heart and spirit. Director/writer Tim Kirkman has coaxed above-average performances from all his leads. The slow-moving backdrop of North Carolina lends the perfect tone of social-conservative repression like a less comedic bleak version of Desperate Housewives. Both TV's Desperate and Loggerheads coincidentally were honored at this year's L.A. Outfest.