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Sister (5 stars)

Utterly absorbing drama about fractured family relationships

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Sister

Swiss-French filmmaker Ursula Meier follows her feature debut, the tragic-comic domestic drama Home, with another leftfield story about a family in dysfunction. In this case, it’s a family of two comprising a 12-year-old boy named Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein, who appeared in Home and for whom Meier wrote the part) and his older sister of the title, Louise (It girl Léa Seydoux, soon to be seen opposite Vincent Cassel in a new version of Beauty and the Beast), who share a grotty apartment in a housing complex below a luxury Swiss ski resort. With Louise unable and/or unwilling to hold down a job, it falls to Simon to make ends meet, and this he does remarkably well through his daily trips to the top of the mountain, where he poses as a wealthy kid and steals sporting equipment from the moneyed holidaymakers which he sells on in the valley below.

Co-written with Antoine Jaccoud and Gilles Taurand, Meier’s film is both an intimate drama about fractured family relationships and a social realist drama that looks at how class differences affect young lives. Forced to become the breadwinner, Simon, who is too young to work legally, takes the best option available to him and exploits his proximity to the wealthy above him. And yet, despite becoming a reasonably accomplished vagabond, the sly Simon remains emotionally vulnerable. Teaming up with a dishonest seasonal worker, a Scottish cook played by Martin Compston, Simon soon finds himself out of his depth, while an encounter with a posh mum (Gillian Anderson) leaves the boy longing for a parent. It’s with his sister, however, that Simon is at his most sensitive, the reason for which is revealed through a striking plot twist in the second half of this utterly absorbing film.

Selected release from Fri 26 Oct.

Sister

  • 2012
  • France
  • 100 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Ursula Meier
  • Written by: Antoine Jaccoud
  • Cast: Kacey Mottet Klein, Léa Seydoux, Martin Compston

Drama about a boy supporting his sister by stealing from well-heeled guests in an upmarket Swiss ski resort.

"Sister" Official U.S. Trailer, directed by Ursula Meier

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