Beloved Sisters Screen 20 articles

Beloved Sisters

2014

Beloved Sisters Poster
  • Even though it is 170 minutes long, Dominik Graf’s Beloved Sisters (Die Geliebten Schwestern), which tracks the ménage a trois between the 18th century poet-playwrightFriedrich Schiller and two Jane Austen-like financially compromised female siblings, does trot along, never missing a chance to add to its collection of genius-biopic clichés, as if it were constantly throwing its hat in the air.

  • ...In another corner were odd, irrelevant entries, such as Beloved Sisters, Dominik Graf’s well-paced but hopelessly TV-style saga of poet Friedrich Schiller’s love of two sisters...

  • Absorbing for most of its 170 minutes, the film is marred by Graf’s creaky televisual, digital style; there’s never a sense of the sumptuousness of the period, and Schiller himself often seems less like a learned poet than a hunky bystander.

  • Beloved Sisters throws open the familiar, lavender scented embrace of the period drama. A pretty Wikipedia page, it wants to scrutinize the Personal Life and where necessary sketch a précis of the actual Life’s Work.

  • Writer-director Dominik Graf, who’s worked primarily in television, has concluded, or at least opted to imagine, that the three engaged in a tempestuous ménage à trois, and his handsomely mounted, beautifully acted epic biopic (running just shy of three hours) succeeds in reducing the lives of three important figures in German literary history to a rather banal love triangle.

  • The filmmaking in Beloved Sisters is restless and aggressive, with floating title cards, a pervasive voiceover, and copious pans and tilts, dollies and zooms. Graf’s movie feels most delightfully odd, though, in sequences that function as interludes... The bravado of these digressions reveals Graf’s ambition while exposing the relative thinness of his movie’s central plot: Charlotte and Caroline’s sisterly love and its inevitable undoing are not sufficient anchors for a 170-minute opus.

  • Beloved Sisters doesn’t grovel in eventual heartache over its protracted running time—and perhaps due to that loses a little heft. It goes down easy, like high-grade comfort food. But with revolution in the air (both literal and sexual), the ache of the three leads is enough to sweep you up.

  • Graf freshens the pretty period trappings with a headlong embrace of every old-fashioned detail: omniscient narration, characters directly addressing the camera, intertitles. Above all, he sticks to a leisurely pace that gives personalities time to breathe and develop.

  • The two [lead] actresses navigate the emotional complexity of their roles with quicksilver intuition and what seems like near-bottomless empathy. They make the sisters full individual creations who are nevertheless inextricably bound to each other with the aim of (among other things) making it practically impossible for the viewer to choose a “side.” It’s more their doing than Graf’s that one believes that Schiller could be entirely in love with both of the women.

  • Graf's film, for all its running time, is a singularly focused micro-drama intently aimed at tracking this love triangle, its rules of operation, ever-shifting dynamics and inevitably unwinding... Graf's primary interest lies in the communication between the characters, which is mostly through the lost art of written letters. Partly written in a code the three of them share, Graf captures the weight carried by the written word, the urgency of writing and receiving letters and its inherent drama.

  • In the beginning... Graf’s camera is steady and stately and Michael Weisweg’s cinematography is a conscious rendering of the painting of the era. Once emotions begin to flare, the frame subtly slides off kilter, there are unexpected fades to portraits of characters looking directly into the camera, relatively quick fades elsewhere as well, and even in quiet moments, compositions suggest that all is not quite right. Beloved Sisters is a melodramatic and moving film...

  • The approach is typical, and typically fruitful, for Graf: to take what seems a familiar genre for Germany (here, the period-piece literary biopic), slyly slice it up, and reassemble it in an altogether more challenging and compelling form. It is an approach taken recently in Young Goethe in Love (2011), but Graf refigures the genre more fundamentally and ultimately more convincingly.

  • [Graf has] made one of those relatively rare “period” films that pushes past the stuffy decorousness and mannerism of the dreaded “Masterpiece Theater” school to get at a highly plausible emotional and psychological reading of how people actually lived two centuries ago. (In this, and the airy, natural-light compositions of d.p. Michael Wieswig, the film calls Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” to mind.)

  • Period dramas usually have a choreographed rigidity, but there’s no stifling the carnal impertinence that energizes every frame of this film. The contemporary resonance of the story lies not so much in its universal and timeless essence but in the way the director brings these historical characters to modern life. While carefully respecting the aesthetic and dramaturgic precepts that the genre requires, Graf... sculpts truly flesh-and-blood characters.

  • It’s a film that is both romantic and Romantic: It depicts the passions between the characters as well as their passion for the eternal, for embracing life. Don’t be intimidated by the length, either; it’s a surprisingly brisk, absorbing film, shot and cut with the speed of a thriller.

  • "Beloved Sisters" was exactly what I needed: a whirlwind defense of letting your emotions ruin everything magnificently. The characters in "Beloved Sisters" treat their romantic involvements with the same ugly dependence that the Safdie Brothers' characters treat booze and heroin. When every inch of you wants to cry and wail and moan for someone who can't return your love, in which direction do you run? That's the breed of inextinguishable ecstatic torment in which "Beloved Sisters traffics.

  • Beloved Sisters is a period film that never once breaks the illusion of its genre-based dramatic romance—except, hilariously, in baldly tacky titles and title cards—for Graf is a filmmaker whose belief in the full expressiveness of popular cinematic languages and conventions is confirmed when you watch with what active intelligence his filmmaking is allowed to prickly explore, without rupture, the full range of his chosen story.

  • [It's] pretty much very close to the best possible version of its material, well imagined, fleety, never dull and very well acted, it is also still a handsome made period soap opera and so very much outside of cinephilia usual interests. Graf is always at his best the closer he works as a genre filmmaker and this is excellent genre filmmaking.

  • If for Graf, the trio’s attempts at finding a structure to house the many aspects of love and passion recall the ideals and alternative lifestyles of the Seventies, that extraordinarily contradictory period also engendered a cosmopolitan cinematic modernism that is echoed in his treatment of the material.

  • [Graf] approaches the Schiller-Charlotte-Caroline triangle not as a ball-gown romance, but as a fast-moving genre piece, chock-full of abrupt zooms and whip-pans. While most films set in the period tend to get hung up on clothes—hence the term “costume drama”—Graf is focused on measures of time, and on evoking the spirit of social and private life in the age of letter-writing, horse-drawn travel, and candlelight.

More Links