One of my biggest indie blind spots in recent years has been Lynn Shelton's "Humpday," which is supposed to be the more exemplary package of her style. I can at least tell from her new film, "Your Sister's Sister," that she has a good working relationship with Mark Duplass. He, along with co-stars Emily Blunt and Rosmarie DeWitt, was said to have a lot of input on the film's flow and dialogue, and I think such an arrangement suits this exceptional, winning funnyman. He is the engine behind this film, lending its shakier moments his humor and gravitas. He's a bit over-the-top at times, but I think that maybe the film would descend into the amiable-sitcom vibe it threatens to were it not for his presence. Blunt is very important as well, as she (though she seems to be pushing the edges of her comfort zone) has a real way with eliciting sympathy. DeWitt, such a great force in "Rachel Getting Married" (why is that film not more loved and discussed?!), is the weakest link here, but she still brings tenuous and at times explosive emotion to the situation (even if she's a bit of an outsider when it comes to the passions of the group). Unfortunately for all of them, Shelton, who seems to be keeping a good eye on the proceedings, slackens her grip in the film's final 15 minutes and seems to misunderstand what the film's really about.
The film does do a very good job exploring sensitive bonds between siblings and close friends. It looks first briefly at the depressed Jack (Duplass), who views his recently deceased brother Tom as a flawed figure and gives a typically-indie-awkward speech at a remembrance party that he feels is verging on hagiography. It then pries at the damaged yet still extremely tender relations between Jack's best friend Iris (Blunt) and her sister Hannah (DeWitt). This all is revealed at a cabin outside Seattle, where Iris suggests Jack goes for a head-clearing weekend. Hannah happens to be there doing the same thing, and soon Iris arrives even though she says she isn't going to be able to come. Since this is a romantic modern independent movie, there of course are things had between them that Jack sets off. And they're adeptly orchestrated by Shelton in ways both humorous and tragic, as many confrontations are to be had and sleep is to be lost and stuff like that. It never really goes beyond its parameters, though it would be foolish to expect anything like that. Maybe "Your Sister's Sister" would be stronger if they'd taken more than a handful of days to put it together. It's decent, a little disappointing, but still pretty funny, as uncomfortable as you'd probably want, and with a lot of beautiful nature (though the number of establishing shots validates the "sitcom" label). B-