Now the title The Sisters Brothers has caused a little confusion especially for our Editor who not for the first time has landed himself in trouble. For instance last year he went to a Eurovision Song context party where all attending were invited to pick a potential winning country by initial letter out of a bag. There were only two letters left when it came to our Editor’s turn and he pulled the letter F but with France having gone he got Finland whereas the party hostess, Mrs Ramsbottom, had G and so had Greece. Our Editor offered to swop letters his letter F for her G but she was happy to keep Greece and luckily she went on to win and much drink was consumed as the partygoers played a load of games until the Editor was the last to leave Mrs Ramsbottom’s house party. Returning home his wife, who hates Eurovision, had stayed in but she asked him how the party had gone. ‘It went well’ he replied, ‘We all pulled something out of the bag. I pulled something with a big F in front but someone had already had had the French and Mrs Ramsbottom offered me the Greek entry and she said I was a gentlemen because I had been the last to the Finnish.’ He is now sleeping in the spare room. But it’s that’s sort of confusion that a title like The Sisters Brothers might cause.
Set in Oregon 1851 the film starts with a shoot out in the pitch black of night with each of the warring parties only able to guess where their enemy is by the fire flashes from the guns. It’s a nice sequence and sets out its European sensibilities and is about as much action as you’ll see in this as the Sisters Brothers here played by John C Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as a pair of assassins with Reilly wanting to end their days in this role whereas Phoenix positively revels in the drinking chaotic lifestyle they both lead
Their pair of characters are balanced by Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal as a chemist and detective respectively who like Reilly & Phoenix are looking for the chemist as he has found a formula to make gold prospecting far easier and the sequence where the four having finally crossed paths carry out the first bout of prospecting using the technique is engrossing but the chemist has formulated a potentially lethal mix of chemicals and it’s inevitable that this will end badly.
Directed by Jacques Audiard in his English language debut this is something of a revisionist western with a slower pace that might deter many audiences from a genre which is notoriously patchy and The Sisters brothers has moments of whimsy and moments of brooding violence which makes the film tonally uneven. Based on a book by Patrick DeWitt it is a film that is slow but looks great with the leads uniformly good and a story that’s different from films normally depicted in the genre ending in a way that’s not what you might expect. Rumours of the remake with the lead roles being female and the characters becoming nuns remain unfounded and so thankfully our Editor will never get to see the Sister Sisters.
Here’s the trailer……..