The Sisters

"Bad"

The Sisters Review


Films have certain advantages over stage plays - locations can shift, laws of physics need not apply, and characters can do more than stand around and talk ad nauseam. Unfortunately, no one shared this world of possibilities with the makers of The Sisters, an aggressively frustrating and ultimately nonsensical waste of time and talent.The titular Prior sisters, hyper-literate and unlikable to a one, are conveniently categorized archetypes capable of little beyond petty bickering. There's the oldest, Olga (Mary Stuart Masterson), cold, repressed, and overly rational; the middle, Marcia (Maria Bello), whose vicious unhappiness has turned her into predatory shrew; and baby Irene (Erika Christensen), the idealistic peacemaker. The family, along with brother Andrew (Nivola), a spineless placeholder, and various relatives and hangers-on, assembles regularly for festive occasions as heartwarming as a pack of coyotes fighting over a kill.The melodrama is intimate but overly full of histrionics: Marcia is trapped in an awful marriage to an equally bilious psychologist and tempted into an affair - after approximately an hour of acquaintance - with a former student of her father's (Tony Goldwyn); two different professors (one acerbic, the other puppyish) are in love with the oblivious Irene; the entire family hates Andrew's trashy fiancée, Nancy. Each conflict plays out in vicious familial attacks and endless, self-congratulatory, falsely profound dialogue.The Sisters is based on the Chekov play Three Sisters, and I will title that Problem #1: It sticks too closely to the devices of the original. In Chekov's time, an unhappy marriage was permanent, love could be so socially unacceptable it was rendered unmentionable, and repression was a legitimate way of life. In a modern setting, the confines are simply not as limiting as the characters would like to believe. Marcia makes no secret of being violently miserable in her marriage and communicates with her husband solely in hurled vitriol, and yet she stays! For no good reason! This isn't a tragic character; she's a woe-is-me-martyr, and impossible to like for it.Problem #2 is in the adaptation of the piece from a stage play to the screen. I'd guess that, in the process, Richard Alfeiri was reluctant to make any significant alterations to his original or offer many concessions to the medium, because this reads exactly like a play. That isn't a complement; these characters do nothing but talk. In a stage setting, audiences are willing to put up with florid language, but for film, the dialogue is ridiculous. Characters pack every sentence with as many 50-cent-words possible - why say "live" when "inhabit" has so many more syllables? During one (of many) heated arguments, one sister actually says to another, "You do not understand my complexities enough to analyze and categorize me!" I wish I were making that up, or that it were an anomaly. But no, they are all so pleased with themselves, with their endless babble about the "nature of their truth" that every sentence furthers the desire to slap each and every character. Hard.Probably the biggest problem with The Sisters, however, is how great a waste it is. Despite the irritating script and visuals that are so sporadically fanciful that it looks as though Arthur Allan Seidelman is discovering the effects features on Final Cut Pro and wants to show them off, the cast is uniformly stellar. Bello's Marcia is deplorable, but she acts the hell out of her; same goes for Masterson and Elizabeth Banks as the uniformly reviled Nancy. All, really, are much better than the material given, so it is unclear what possessed such a rock-sold cast to sign on to such a screenplay, but at least their presence makes the film occasionally bearable.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th October 1938

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman

Starring: as Nancy Pecket, as Marcia Prior Glass, as Irene Prior, as Gary Sokol, as David Turzin, as Olga Prior, as Vincent Antonelli, as Andrew Prior, as Dr. Chebrin, as Dr. Harry Glass

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.