Sister Screen 9 articles

Sister

2012

Sister Poster
  • Definitely helpful that the Dardennes made a superficially similar film about a young delinquent, so I can try to figure out why I don't respond so much to Meier's (perfectly adequate) movies - and the answer, I suspect, may be that she favours flashy concepts (like the house in Home, or the twist here, or the symbolic ending or e.g. the sudden cut to the 'siblings' fighting) in a mundane setting, whereas the Dardennes hard-wire the strangeness within their characters...

  • Familiar but accomplished, with expert attention to detail, fine performances all around (including the best use of Léa Seydoux to date without making her a professional assassin), and an ending so unexpectedly perfect it stops your heart.

  • Set amidst the imposing Swiss Alps, this sure-footed sophomore feature from writer-director Ursula Meier offers a raw, sobering look at the life of a child whose need for affection is as crucial to his survival as the stale stolen sandwiches that constitute his sporadic meals.

  • There’s right away something intriguing, like some glimpse of rare human ecology, about this resourceful, wiry boy surviving off the seasonal swells of visitors; his need for cash for food makes the leisure activity of going downhill sound vaguely absurd.

  • Director Ursula Meier deftly explores the character’s fracturing sense of self while grounding him in a vividly realized locale. The brilliant cinematographer Agnès Godard makes the snowcapped peaks look Olympus-like in their oppressive grandeur, heightening the divide between Simon and the people he sneaks among, one of them an alternately motherly and arrogant mark played beautifully by Gillian Anderson.

  • Despite its predictability and somewhat shopworn narrative, Sister is sustained by a sturdy emotional engine and some intrepidly thoughtful characterization, factors which mostly make up for these weaknesses.

  • Writer/director Ursula Meier uses a stripped-down, naturalistic aesthetic full of well-organized compositions that pay close attention to shifts in character mood, comportment, and behavior. Her eerily silent soundscape—punctuated by a score that alternates between lullaby portentousness and electro-fuzz energy—adds to a mood of lost souls trying to maintain balance on a dangerous precipice.

  • Gracefully, [Meier] oscillates between visual, narrative and real-world extremes — the big and the little, the rich and the poor, the grand and the base — to build a story that is simultaneously personal and political, intimate and bigger than any one life.

  • How sad is this? It's like E.T. if the alien never came. A feral survivor of a kid, with the kind of pained intensity rarely seen outside the Dardennes' films, making do as a ski lodge pilferer. From above, there's nothing to see below, and truly there's nothing there; home is an anonymous apartment tower, the view from the balcony into the parking lot equally depressing.

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