By Caryn James | James on Screens June 15, 2012 at 9:00AM
Since I saw Your Sister’s Sister at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Lynn Sheldon’s lovely, witty romantic comedy about a totally unlikely love triangle -- try this: a girl and her dead ex-boyfriend’s brother and her lesbian sister – has only come to seem more impressive against the season’s competition. It's a small relationship film with a big bold impact - witty, nuanced, beautifully acted.
The cast is as unbeatable as they are in their other recent films. If you missed Emily Blunt -- one of the sisters here -- in The Five-Year Engagement, forget its cranky reviews and box-office floppiness and catch it on DVD. Blunt and Jason Segel make this mainstream comedy much more fun than its self-explanatory title.
And while you’re out at the movies, don’t miss Mark Duplass, who plays the man in the middle in Your Sister’s Sister, in another oddball, charming romantic comedy, Safety Not Guaranteed.
But Your Sister’s Sister tops the list. Even its tortured backstory to justify Blunt's British accent seems more charming than desperate. If you missed my Tribeca review, here’s a quick recap:
As director Lynn Shelton proved in Humpday, she’s expert at depicting off-kilter triangles. Here Jack (Mark Duplass) is mourning his brother, who died the year before. Emily Blunt plays Iris, who broke up with the brother long before his death and, in the unlikely way of movie relationships, is also Jack’s best friend. Even less likely, when she sends Jack to the family cabin near Seattle for some emotional R&R, he meets and has totally drunken sex with her half- sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who has just broken up with her long-term girlfriend.
This is not a scenario most directors could or would even want to pull off, but Shelton and her actors make it more than believable – it’s actually touching. There are screwball touches, as Iris show up at the cabin, and we learn more about who secretly loves whom. The scenes are mostly small, as the three of them, in often-improvised episodes, have dinner or go for walks. There is a big emotional climax. But the wonder is watching these three actors at their best, bringing their unexpected story to such warm and naural life.