Simple Review- A looooong ride thru the Old West.
After a nice run of new movies opening over the previous weekends, Hollywood delivers another weekend without much to grab one’s attention. Fortunately for me, one of the films I had been looking forward to seeing happened to hit my little area of the world, which is not known for being at the forefront of cinematic releases. The Sisters Brothers takes us back to the days of yore when a six-shooter spoke loud and hats were all the rage. This particular western has an incredible cast to lead us through the open ranges of the wild, wild West. Does The Sisters Brothers outdraw the competition, or does it end up on a train headed out of town while Bugs Bunny yells, ” So long, Sammy! See you in Miami.” ( Do you get the Looney Toons reference?)
The Sisters Brothers tells the tale of Eli and Charlie Sisters, two infamous bounty hunters sent to track down a gold prospector with a secret on his way to San Francisco. To continue my absolute honesty with you, my faithful reader, this movie, or more to the point its trailer, tricked me. I thought this was going to be a quirky take on the western in the vein of a Coen Brothers movie. In my defense, the trailer does highlight the humor in this movie and manipulates scenes to create a different vibe than what this movie actually is. While I am talented enough to alter my reviewing abilities on the fly, I do wish the marketing for the movie had been honest with us. While I was disappointed by The Sisters Brothers, there was quite a bit to like about the movie. Let’s form a posse and track down the positives from The Sisters Brothers and collect the reward.
The best thing this movie has going for it is the amazing cast. John C. Reilly and Joaquin Pheonix play the Sisters brothers and of the two, John C. Reilly is the standout. He delivers an amazing and the most complete performance of the film, adding depth to Eli the older brother. When he is on screen the movie is at its best. Joaquin, as younger brother Charlie, does a fine job as well, though his character doesn’t have as much depth as Eli. Riz Ahmed continues to impress as the soft-spoken, yet persuasive prospector Hermann Kermit Warm. ( Just the best character name!) Aside from Eli, Hermann was the most interesting character and I would have liked to have seen more of him in the movie. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the other main character, John Morris, who is sent to track Hermann but ends up becoming friends with him. Jake is good in the film, but he uses an odd accent that distracted me from his performances. I guess it was a North Eastern U.S. accent but it was an odd choice that hurt his otherwise solid performance. It was fun seeing him and Riz Ahmed together onscreen after the great work they did in Nightcrawler.
The cinematography in The Sisters Brothers is absolutely beautiful. Naturally, as a western, there are gorgeous shots of scenery throughout the film. There is an amazing shot of the wilderness as it reaches into snow-topped mountains that had this city boy actually in awe of nature. The film does an excellent job with the gunfights in the film, with the opening sequence being especially memorable as it is shot at night with the gunshots illuminating the screen as the scene develops. Director Jacques Audiard does not shy away from the blood and violence of the gunfights, showing the horror of being shot. Whoever did the sound for the film must have been a fan of Dunkirk, as the gunshots are realistically loud and violent. Despite the bombastic moments in this movie, Audiard gives us scenes of quiet with soft, emotional moments that flesh out John C. Reilly’s Eli the most. There is a touching scene between Eli and a prostitute that is equal parts sweet and sad, as well as being beautifully acted. Without giving it away, I loved the last moments of the film. Not only is it an emotionally impactful moment, but the camera moving through the scene is amazing, once again telling the story visually not boring us with unneeded dialogue.
Despite the positives, this is a frustrating movie, almost wasting these excellent actors. As I mentioned, Eli is the only character that feels like his character arc gets completed. Charlie is the typical drunk, angry brother that causes Eli more trouble than the men fighting them. The relationship between John Morris and Hermann Kermit Warm ( dang, I love that name) is rushed to the point that it doesn’t capitalize on the chemistry between Riz and Jake. ( yes, they let me use their first names. We are cool like that.) If this was a film that didn’t have room to build that relationship, then it would be acceptable but there is a lot of fat that needed to be trimmed from this movie. If Audiard had developed these characters, and Charlie, better their eventual fate would have been much more impactful. As it is, it feels like by the time you get to know them they are done in the movie. Again, it is very frustrating considering the caliber of actor this movie has in it.
The other thing The Sisters Brothers has working against it is the meandering plot. This movie takes forever to get from point A to point B. Normally, I wouldn’t mind if the characters were well developed or the journey was interesting, but neither is true in this case. The movie seems to wander off in the wilderness then someone speaks up telling the director we have to get back to the plot. Any momentum this movie builds up is killed by these wandering moments, which, as I have stated, could have been put to better use with this amazing cast. While I love the ending moments, there are so many natural ending points to the film that you feel the dragging in the movie even more, making my bladder even angrier at me for drinking that large soda.
Ultimately, I think it best to wait on The Sisters Brothers until you can watch it at home. Despite some excellent performances, this movie just loses focus too much to the point it feels longer than it actually is. Much like my dating life, The Sisters Brothers is a beautiful mess that leaves one wondering what could have been! Color me disappointed. Once again we come to the end of another brilliant piece of writing that I know you enjoyed, so like this one, leave a comment, follow or share with your friends and families to make the world a better place!
As always, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho