Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Twins in trouble: Stéphanie Chuat/Véronique Reymond's remarkably fluid and alive family drama, MY LITTLE SISTER, hits home video

The death of a sibling is difficult enough, I should imagine (being myself an only child), but the death of a twin at an untimely age must be one of the most difficult losses to endure. That is the tale told in Switzerland's entry into this year's Best International Film "Oscar" race, MY LITTLE SISTER, which opened in virtual cinemas earlier this year and this week hits home video. But if  you are now expecting some dreary slough through pain and distress, relax a bit. Oh, the pain and distress are certainly there, but also present is one of the most lively, dramatic, vital and thoughtful films of this past year.

Written and directed by Stéphanie Chuat (at right, above) and Véronique Reymond (above, left), the movie insists upon liveliness over all, despite its somber theme which is shown us at the outset. This liveliness is certainly due in great part to the family in question being a highly theatrical one. The self-involved and perhaps now slightly demented mom (the wonderful Marthe Keller, below) was a noted actress and her late husband an evidently famous theater director. 

Their son (played by Lars Eidlinger, below, right), now ill with leukemia, is a well-known actor, while his "little" sister (born a couple of minutes after him) is an equally famous writer (played by noted German actress Nina Hoss, below, left) -- who appears to have given up her career to act as her brother's ever more full-time nurse.

Sis, however already has a loving husband (Jens Albinus, below, right) and two children -- all of whom demand her time and energy. In fact, her hubby's own career is currently taking off, and -- as helpful and caring for her brother as he already is -- he needs his wife's attention even more just now.

All this is communicated in near fast-and-furious fashion that somehow never detracts from the imminent pain and sorrow with which these characters are constantly dealing.  The very vigor and energy of the film makes these people and their situation all the more believable and important. Clearly the filmmakers understand how life and its constant, immediate demands vie for attention -- no matter how awful the surrounding circumstances might be. 

Ms.Hoss and Herr Eidlinger could hardly be better (I can't think of an actor who's portrayed the pain of cancer any more convincingly), and supporting performances are aces right down the line. My Little Sister lasts but 100 minutes, yet by its conclusion, you'll have lived through what may seem like a  lifetime or two -- and have been entertained and learned a hell of a lot in the meantime.

From Film Movement, in German and French (and a bit of English) with English subtitles, the movie -- after a theatrical release early this year -- is now available via DVD and streaming. Click here for more details on how and where to view.

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