I've been a fan of Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton's work since I saw her first feature, We Go Way Back, at a screening way back in 2006. I was entranced by Shelton's approach to storytelling—which seemed simultaneously impressionistic and incisive. I also appreciated her firm grasp of how people actually speak to each other—probably a result of her reliance on loose script outlines and improvised lines. And I loved her sense of humor, which she brought to the fore in My Effortless Brilliance (2008), another intriguing look at the tricky balancing act that is the intimate human relationship. She transported her humor and fascination with male friendships to her breakout film, Humpday (2009)—a hilarious, cringe-inducing and ultimately touching tale of two straight men whose bravado lands them in the awkward position of making a gay porn movie together.
And now she brings us another funny story of complicated interpersonal dealings, called Your Sister's Sister. AND IT'S SO GOOD! Recently purchased by IFC and due to be released in theaters this summer, this is Shelton's strongest work yet. I was lucky enough to see a screening last fall, and I left the theater marveling at her talent. Starring Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as sisters, and Mark Duplass (from Humpday) as Blunt's best friend, the movie is romantic and a comedy, sure, but it has nothing in common with the insipid rom-coms Hollywood attempts to force feed audiences. Like all Shelton's work, the film is subtle and pleasantly drifty (maybe that's her Seattle upbringing shining through), punctuated with laugh-out-loud comedy (based in awkward interpersonal maneuvers) and genuine shock and sadness. I won't reveal much, since the plot twists and turns are so much fun to experience first-hand, but I will say that the characters seemed so real, when the movie ended I felt like I wanted to go grab a beer with them.
If you can't wait until the summer release date, head to the Sundance Film Festival—Your Sister's Sister is screening there January 20-28. Trust me, it'll be worth the trip.
Originally posted November 10, 2011.