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"Sister": Staying Balanced Atop a Precipice 

Wednesday, Nov 7 2012
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Hustling is a profession for the pint-size in Sister, a drama about a 12-year-old boy's efforts to support himself and his older sister by stealing gear from patrons of a Swiss ski resort. A delinquent kleptomaniac entrepreneur who peddles hot skis, gloves, and masks with the confidence of an old pro, Simon (Kacey Mottet Klein) toils for the love of sibling Louise (Léa Seydoux), a hot mess who others assume is a whore and who can't hold a job or resist hooking up with her abusive boyfriend. Writer/director Ursula Meier uses a stripped-down, naturalistic aesthetic full of well-organized compositions that pay close attention to shifts in mood and behavior. Her eerily silent soundscape adds to a mood of lost souls trying to maintain balance on a dangerous precipice. A midpoint revelation hits hard even though it's subtly telegraphed beforehand by a look of piercing desperation from Simon to a skiing mother (Gillian Anderson), and leads to a conclusion of tumultuous disarray (and tentative, qualified hope) that makes clear that resentment and anger only breed more of the same — and, worse still, solitude.

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Nick Schager

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