The words “based on a true story” are like a loaded pistol aimed directly at your fragile, naïve, shivering heart. As a rule, I never trust anyone who feels the needs to say “Trust me”, and when a film opens with the words “based on a true story” or some devilishly clever variation, I immediately begin searching for inconsistencies and improbabilities. I am a skeptic, and a proud one at that.
The last two films we’ve seen at the Cape Breton Island Film Series have been warm-hearted comedies “based” on “true” “stories”. The theatre has been full, and the audience has been just-loving the easy blend of emotional impact and relief. I’m thrilled for this. However, as I attempt to summarize Richard Linklater’s Bernie into one witty, insightful, important sentence, I find myself falling well short of the goal. Instead I feel like asking, did anyone notice how small minded the charming people of small town Carthage, TX really were? Did their acceptance of Bernie the flamboyant funeral director really excuse their inhumane disregard for an angry old widow? I mean, I loved this movie, don’t get me wrong, but whose story is it based on and at what point does town gossip become Truth?
But this isn’t a review, it’s just my spiraling insecurity as a reviewer, unable to address these instances of truth, and until someone can answer me with some kind of authority, I’m not sure I can take any more based-on-true-story stories. I won’t even start on The Intouchables, in which an old white guy’s friendship with a kind Arab gets retold as an old white guy’s friendship with a clownish black man who is so startlingly stereotyped from every possible angle, that that shit just has to be real. Except it’s not! So what is the point here?! Okay, I’m not starting.
Enough of my diatribe on stories based on true stories, which seems like a story too many for me. Now on to this week’s exciting, completely fictional feature presentation!
This week the Cape Breton Island Film Series will be showing Your Sister’s Sister, starring Emily Blunt and Rosemarie Dewitt as each other’s sister’s sisters. This fun braintwister of a title sets an odd, meaningless tone for what will hopefully be a like-minded movie.
Mark Duplass also stars, who you might remember from Safety Not Guaranteed, in which he played an unassuming grocery store clerk with a penchant for time travel. Now, Duplass plays Jack, a young man still reeling a year after his brother’s death. His best friend Iris (Dewitt) sends him to stay at her cabin, where he encounters her sister Hannah (Blunt), who is heartbroken over the breakup of her 7-year relationship. The plot hardly thickens, though as the dynamically ordinary characters develop, little lumps of meaning may form in the emotional broth.
Remember how Seinfeld always claimed itself to be about nothing, even though, as the years go by, we continue to reference, quote, and analyze that nothing to its bitter inconclusion? Nothing is the new something, and this film by Lynn Shelton is chalk full of it. Careers, relationships, and all that stuff that makes up social status and polite conversation: here it’s all just dark matter in an indifferent universe. Details are tossed in a stew and set to simmer, so that what comes out has an entirely new taste all together.
From what I can gather from the reviews, the worst thing that happens in this movie, is that something actually kind of happens, towards the end. I don’t know what it is, but I have it on good authority that the story was better off floating in a sea of self-absorbed silliness.
I think that could be said for a lot of things.
Your Sister’s Sister plays this Thursday at 7pm at Empire Theatres Studio 10.