September 28, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Geek Review: The Sisters Brothers

Two gunslinging brothers go on what may be a last mission.

Jenny, famously, doesn’t care for John C. Reilly.  Watson, for his part, doesn’t care much for Joaquin Phoenix.  The Sisters Brothers seems like a movie designed to drive both of them away.

Me, I like both of those guys, so I went to see it.

The Sisters Brothers are a pair of highly feared and deadly gunslingers in the employ of a man referred to only as the Commodore (Rutger Hauer).  Younger brother Charlie (Phoenix) is a belligerent drunk inclined to violence who proudly talks about the fearsome reputation the two brothers with the ridiculous last name have.  Older brother Eli (Reilly) seems to be reaching his limit.  The Commodore only really talks to Charlie, and Eli is tired of, among other things, constantly looking out for Charlie while his brother is getting drunk and causing problems.  Eli also seems to be more likely to start questioning what the two are doing.

As it is, the Commodore has another job for them.  He’s claiming a chemist/prospector has stolen from him.  He’s already sent a scout, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) on ahead to find the guy, an idealistic young man named Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed).  As the brothers set out, Eli seems more interested in settling down, and Charlie doesn’t seem to have thought that far ahead on anything.

Director Jacques Audiard made a fairly interesting movie here.  The four leads all do well with their respective material, with Ahmed an idealist people find trustworthy, Gyllenhaal as a loquacious man with an air of superiority, Phoenix as drunk with a chip on his shoulder, and especially Reilly as the somewhat burnt out Eli.  Reilly really does a good job showing a vulnerable side to a man whose made his living through violence and is rather good at it.

Despite a comedic tone and a silly title, I have to say I found myself really enjoying the more serious side to the movie.  I can honestly say I wasn’t sure how the movie was going to end for the Sisters brothers, and the ending was highly appropriate for the story being told.  I really dug this, and it’s a bit of a shame it didn’t find a wider audience, but it certainly wasn’t the broad comedy the title and trailers suggested.  It was much more of a dark comedy with a strong character study at its center, looking for the human and humane side to people who live and work with violence.  As such, 9 out of 10 unfortunate spider attacks.